* See the Top 50 All-brands and Top 280 All-models by clicking on the title *
Real estate investment is one of Australia’s hobbies, and lower property prices in Sydney and Melbourne this year go a long way in explaining the continued slump the Australian new vehicle market is experiencing in 2018. Sales are down for the 7th consecutive month in October at -5.3% to 90.718 units, bringing the year-to-date tally down 1.3% to 971.723, still the third largest volume at this stage of the year below 2017 (984.931) and 2016 (980.433). Seven straight months of decline in Australia is something we haven’t seen in over four years, a time that saw 8 consecutive negative months between January and August 2014. Replicating the adverse real estate market situation, New South Wales (-9.2% to 28.575) is the worst performing state this month, with South Australia (-5.1% to 5.533), Northern Territory (-4.7% to 709), Victoria (-4.2% to 26.914), Queensland (-2.7% to 17.375), Australian Capital (-2.1% to 1.418) and Western Australia (-1.7% to 8.318) also in difficulty. Only Tasmania (+0.3% to 1.876) edges up. Year-to-date, once again Tasmania (+6.8% to 16.786) leads the pack ahead of Western Australia (+1% to 81.927), Victoria (+0.6% to 280.368) and Queensland (+0.4% to 195.158) whereas all other States and Territories are in decline, led by New South Wales (-4.8% to 314.901), Northern Territory (-4% to 8.886), South Australia (-1.9% to 58.340) and Australian Capital (-0.5% to 15.357). The impact of a depressed New South Wales – in effect Sydney – is so great that removing that State from the equation leads to a growing Australian market in 2018 at +0.4% to 656.822.
Another indicator of the current pessimistic consumer outlook that may have been worsened by the declining exchange rate and the drought’s impact on GDP is private sales in sharp decline in October at -12% to 37.335 units and 41.2% share vs. 44.3% a year ago compared to -6.6% year-to-date to 438.402 and 45.1% share vs. 47.6% over the same period in 2017. Business sales (-4.1%) fare better at 37.940 units and 41.8% share vs. 41.3% in October 2017, even positing a positive result YTD at +1.6% to 402.062 and 41.4% share vs. 40.2% in 2017. But this month it’s artificial channels that prevent the market from falling any further with rental sales bouncing up 15% year-on-year to 8.357 and 9.2% share vs. 7.6% a year ago – they are up 13.7% YTD at 65.149 – and government sales up 6.7% to 3.305. There’s nothing stopping the SUV surge: that segment soars 8.1% year-on-year to 39.849 or 43.9% share vs. 38.5% a year ago, in line with the +8.1% it commands YTD to 417.673 and 43% share vs. 39% over the same period a year ago whereas passenger cars implode at -23.6% to 27.802 and 30.6% share vs. 38% a year ago, much worse than its 14.4% YTD fall to 322.126 and 33.1% vs. 38.2%. It does look like what consumers are doing is simply upgrading from a passenger car to an SUV as the light commercial segment (mainly pickups or “utes” as they are called here) is stable at +1% to 19.286 in October and +1.7% to 197.679 YTD, heavy commercials gain 10.8% to 3.781 this month and 15.1% YTD to 34.245.
Looking at country of origin, Japan leads the way at 28.110 (+3.9%) ahead of Thailand at 22.366 (-2%) – the origin of almost all pickup trucks sold in Australia, South Korea at 13.290 (-13.7%), Germany at 6.856 (-6.4%), the USA at 3.978 (+7.1%), England at 2.327 (-15.8%), the Czech Republic at 1.325 (+57.6%), Mexico at 1.198 (+103.1%), Spain at 1.196 (-6%) and China at 1.130, up a smashing 182.5%. There were 38 Australian-made cars sold in October (-99.3%) – one Ford, three Toyotas and 34 Holdens – a logical evolution as local production ended exactly a year ago on October 20. Year-to-date, Japan once again is on top at 300.405 (+6.2%) followed by Thailand at 251.158 (-2%), South Korea at 144.5700 (-1.9%), Germany at 78.925 (+4.2%), the USA at 37.199 (-9.9%), England at 27.841 (-5.3%), Spain at 12.349 (-12%), Hungary at 9.875 (-13.3%), the Czech Republic at 9.760 (+9.2%), Mexico at 9.128 (+210.1%) and China at 8.426 (+120.4%). Below there is South Africa (6.830), Poland (6.684), Argentina (4.992), Finland (4.840) and Australia at 4.182 (-91.4%).
Brand leader Toyota (-0.1%) braves the surrounding gloom to post an almost identical score year-on-year, resulting in a very sturdy 19.6% market share vs. 18.8% so far in 2018. Mazda (+1.5%) bounces back up two spots on last month to return to the 2nd place it holds year-to-date, outpacing Hyundai (-15.5%) and Mitsubishi (+12%), the latter posting the largest year-on-year gain in the Top 18. After receding to #6 last month and allowing the Top 5 to be 100% Asian for the first time in Australian history, Ford (-7.3%) is back up one rank to #5 but still trails the market, while embattled Holden (-32%) appallingly loses one-third of its October 2017 volume – just as its once-superstar nameplate, the Commodore, implodes down 73% – but gains 4 spots on last month to #6, hitting its highest share since January at 5.8%. Hopefully the new GMC-rebadge Acadia will help: it lands this month at #91. Only Kia (+7.7%) gains ground in the remainder of the Top 10, while further down MG (+747.6%), Ferrari (+460%), Great Wall (+260%), Ram (+227.5%), LDV (+108.8%), Haval (+74.1%), Aston Martin (+71.4%), Volvo (+68.1%), Jaguar (+43%), Alfa Romeo (+25.3%) and Porsche (+18.9%) make waves.
The Toyota Hilux (+15%) cements its domination of the Australian market by celebrating one full year (=12 consecutive months) in pole position at a towering 4.9% share. This is the longest stretch of consecutive #1 finishes in over 13 years: since the Holden Commodore ranked #1 for 22 consecutive months between October 2003 and July 2005. The Hilux is one percentage point above its main rival the Ford Ranger (+14%), also in excellent shape thanks to the introduction of the range-topping Raptor variant. Both “utes” score higher sales thanks to very healthy 4×4 variants up 16.4% to 3.456 for the Hilux (and up 10% to 31.898 YTD) and up 16.8% to 3.094 for the Ranger (up 0.6% to 30.674 YTD). Having the Hilux and Ranger atop Australian sales charts is the new normal, but it was only two years ago inn October 2016 that it happened for the first time. It has since occurred 17 times over the past 24 months. Three passenger cars round up the Top 5 as per the YTD order: the Toyota Corolla (-14%), Mazda3 (+7%) and Hyundai i30 (-49%).
In 6th place the Mazda CX-5 (-7%) reclaims the title of best-selling SUV in Australia but the real performer is just below: the Subaru Forester soars 82% year-on-year and 8 spots on September to land in 7th position with 1.792 sales and 2% share, new ranking and volume records. The only two times the Forester ever managed a Top 10 finish in Australia were in in August 2008 and April 2009 when it ranked #10 both times. Its previous record volume is 1.690 in June 2010 and the Forester reached 2% share once before, in August 2008. The Mitsubishi ASX (+13%) and Nissan X-Trail (-7%) make it four SUVs in the October Top 10, the most of any segment. Also of note in the Top 50 are the performances of the Hyundai Santa Fe (+76%), Toyota Prado (+68%), VW Tiguan (+65%), Mercedes GLC (+48%), VW Polo (+48%), Hyundai Kona (+43%), Toyota C-HR (+34%) at a record #31 and Kia Sportage (+21%). The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross (#50) is the best-selling recent launch (<12 months) above the Holden Equinox (#71), Volvo XC40 (#83) and Mazda CX-8 (#85), the Lamborghini Uris is up 150% on September to #255 and we welcome the Alpine A110 at #230 and the Audi Q8 at #258.
Full October 2018 Top 50 All-brands and Top 280 All-models below.