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Australia March 2019: Mitsubishi (+15%) up to record #2, places 3 models in Top 9 in 12th straight market decline (-7.1%)

The Pajero Sport (+59.2%) helps Mitsubishi sales soar 15% in March.

New vehicle sales in Australia have now closed the loop: in negative year-on-year for a full 12 months in a row. March marks the lowest result for the month since 2014, down -7.1% to 99.442 units and leading to a year-to-date tally also at its lowest since 2014 at -7.9% to 268.538. This time private sales (-4.4%) fare best at 45.910 and 46.2% share vs. 44.9% a year ago, indicating the market could be getting healthier, but under-perform YTD at -8.6% to 127.213 and 47.4% share vs. 47.8% over Q1 2018. Business sales drop 8.5% in March to 40.849 and 41.1% share vs. 41.7% a year ago and -9.8% YTD to 109.188 and 40.7% vs. 41.5% while rental sales take the biggest hit at -17.6% to 6.088 whereas they gain 5.3% YTD at 14.492. Government sales hold ok at -4.9% to 3.300, up 3.4% YTD to 9.327. The main sources of cars sold in Australia are Japan (-8.5% To 30.681), Thailand (-5.9% to 26.909), South Korea (-11.7% to 13.268), Germany (+0.5% to 8.506), UK (+2.4% to 3.510), USA (-12.9% to 3.298) and China (+87.6% to 1.435). Australia-made cars are down 97.3% to 19 as local manufacturing ended in 2017.

SUV sales continue to gallop ahead, bucking the negative trend at +0.3% to 45.660 units and 45.9% share vs. 42.6% a year ago but are down -3.5% YTD to 118.892 and 44.3% vs. 42.3%. Meanwhile passenger cars accelerate their freefall at a ghastly -19.7% in March to just 28.999 units and 29.2% share vs. 33.8% a year ago and down -17.8% YTD to 84.200 and 31.3% vs. 35.1% and light commercials – mainly pickup trucks nicknamed utes here – drop just -1.9% in March to 21.488 and 21.6% vs. 20.5% and -0.4% YTD to 57.128 and 21.3% vs. 19.7%. All states are down year-on-year in March bar South Australia up a fantastic 9.4% to 6.927 and Tasmania at +6.2% to 1.595, with New South Wales at -8.4% to 31.847, Victoria at -11.5% to 27.520, Queensland at -5.5% to 20.402, Western Australia at -3.5% to 8.516, ACT at -7.9% to 1.672 and Northern Territory at -9.7% to 963. YTD, only Tasmania (+0.3%) and South Australia (+0.2%) edge up thanks to their March score. Petrol sales add up to 61.040, diesel sales 36.383 and hybrid 1.541.

Brand-wise, below perennial leader Toyota (-8.4%) somewhat weak at 17.4% share, Mitsubishi is without contest the hero of the month, posting a third consecutive double-digit gain at +15% and the best improvement in the Top 16 (after Top 19 in February and Top 18 in January). At 10.2%, Mitsubishi scores its first double-digit market share since September 2002 (10.4%) which was a time when the Japanese carmaker was still a local manufacturer out of its factory in Adelaide. Perhaps most remarkably, Mitsubishi edges up one spot on last month to rank #2 for the first time in history, its previous record being #3 in March 2018, September 2018January 2019 and February 2019. Better still: Mitsubishi is the #1 brand in South Australia this month and the #1 brand nationally in the SUV segment with 15.2% share ahead of Toyota (14.3%), Mazda (10.1%), Nissan (8.1%) and Hyundai (7.4%). The only other Top 10 brand in positive is Kia (+4.3%) remaining at an excellent 6th place, with Mazda (-1.1%) resisting much better than the market but down to #3, Ford (-7.9%), Hyundai (-8.4%) and Volkswagen (-8.9%) roughly matching the market fall but Nissan (-17.4%), Honda (-22.4%) and Holden (-25.1%) all imploding, the latter hitting its 2nd lowest ever volume at 3.833, only 8 sales above last month’s all-time low of 3.825. Below, Ram (+773.9%), MG (+395.1%), Infiniti (+116.3%), Great Wall (+100%), Rolls Royce (+100%), Bentley (+90.9%), Haval (+73.6%), Porsche (+61.6%), Volvo (+49.6%), Jaguar (+41.5%), Land Rover (+25.4%), Skoda (+24.6%) and Lamborghini (+14.3%) are among the biggest gainers.

Over in the models ranking, the Toyota Hilux (+4.1%) celebrates 17 consecutive months at #1, the longest streak of consecutive top spot finishes in almost 14 years, since the Holden Commodore ranked #1 22 consecutive times between October 2003 and July 2005. For the 2nd month in a row and ever, the Hilux outsells the entire Holden range (4.527 vs. 3.833), bragging rights that the #2 vehicle in Australia, the Ford Ranger (3.721) now comes very close to also claiming. The Hilux also wins the lucrative 4×4 race at 3.397 sales (+5.4%) and 9.786 YTD (+4.5%) vs. 3.340 (-3.7%) and 8.521 (-9.9%) for the Ranger. With the Mitsubishi Triton at #3, the Australian podium is 100% ute for the third time in history after June 2018 and last month. The Mazda3 (-5%) is the best-selling passenger car as the Toyota Corolla (-22.3%) still remains more profitable than the previous generation as pricing went up and around 30% of its sales are now hybrids, with the Hyundai i30 (-11.7%) only 97 units below. The Mazda CX-5 (+6.8%) remains the most popular SUV in the country above the Mitsubishi ASX (-4.3%) and Outlander (+44.2%), meaning Mitsubishi places 3 nameplates in the Top 9, more than any other carmaker. The Kia Cerato (+12.9%) breaks into the Australian Top 10 for the 2nd time after last June, just as the Mitsubishi Pajero (+103.4%), Pajero Sport (+59.2%), Hyundai Kona (+37.3%), Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross (+38.8%), Mercedes GLC (+38.6%), VW Tiguan (+33.6%), Mercedes C-Class (+21.5%) and Toyota Land Cruiser (+14%) also post very satisfying gains in the Top 50. New launches are struggling in Australia: the best-sellers are the Mercedes X-Class (#89), Mazda CX-8 (#91), Ford Endura (#98), Lexus UX (#99) and Holden Acadia (#100).

Previous month: Australia February 2019: Toyota Hilux outsells entire Holden range, Mitsubishi hits highest share in 16 years in 11th consecutive market decline

One year ago: Australia March 2018: Mitsubishi snaps first podium this millennium, Holden at lowest-ever #10

Full March 2019 Top 45 All-brands and Top 282 All-models below.

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