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Australia Full Year 2019: Kia only island of growth, Hilux #1 for 4th straight year in weakest market since 2011 (-7.8%)

The Toyota Hilux secures a 4th consecutive win in Australia.

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22/01/20 update: Now with Top 335 All-models.

The Australian new vehicle market skids down a harsh -7.8% year-on-year in 2019 to just 1.062.867 registrations which is an 8-year low, the weakest annual tally since 2011 (1.008.437). Every single month of the year was in negative, in fact new vehicle sales in Australia haven’t seen a year-on-year monthly gain since March 2018, December (-3.8%) marking the 21st consecutive month of decline – that’s the longest longest downturn since the Global Financial Crisis a decade ago. There were numerous challenges for vehicle sales in Australia in 2019, notably declining consumer confidence, tighter credit requirements, negative movements in exchange rates, slow wages growth and of course the extreme environmental factors of the last Quarter that disrupted the entire country. Each state and territory is down, with buyers in New South Wales and Victoria, the two largest States, purchasing a combined 60.000 fewer new vehicles than in 2018. In the detail, Tasmania is down -2.3%, South Australia and Western Australia both down -5.4%, Queensland down -7.2%, New South Wales down -8.4%), Victoria down -8.7%, ACT down -11.7% and Northern Territory down -16%.

Kia is the only Top 13 carmaker to gain volume in 2019.

Once again the annual decline would have been worse if not for a slight push by rental fleet sales down just -4.5% to 73.702 and 6.9% share vs. 6.7% in 2018. In contrast, private sales tumble down -7.6% to 476.493 and 44.8% share v. 44.7% a year ago, business sales crumple -8.7% to 438.641 and 41.3% share vs. 41.7% and government sales drop -5.9% to 36.062 and 3.4% vs. 3.3%. SUVs continue to gain market share with sales down just -2.4% to 483.600 and now accounting for 45.5% of the Australian market vs. 43% in 2018 and 39.2% in 2017. Passenger cars on the other hand implode -16.6% to 315.700 and 29.7% share vs. 32.8% in 2018 and 37.8% in 2017. Light commercials – mainly composed of pickup trucks, fall -5.3% to 225.300 but improve their share to 21.2% vs. 20.6% in 2018 and 19.9% in 2017. Petrol-electric hybrid sales soar 53% to 30.641 units to the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid we test drove last year, while EV and PHEV sales surge 54% to 2.925 units but this tally does not include any sales from Tesla, which doesn’t provide data. With the US brand, sales would likely be up to around 7.500. Australians bought vehicles made in Japan at 334.075 (-6.2%), Thailand at 271.120 (-9.7%), South Korea at 150.630 (-11%), Germany at 84.166 (-7.9%) and the USA at 41.275 (-7.2%). The most dynamic source country is China at 17.913 (+70.8%).

Mitsubishi hit a record 2nd place no less than 4 times in 2019.

Toyota (-5.2%) manages to improve its share to 19.4% vs. 18.8% a year ago but drops to its lowest volume since 2014 just below 206.000 units. Mazda (-12.3%) fares a lot worse due to its new “premium” pricing policy in Australia, hitting its lowest volume since 2011, while Hyundai (-8.6% to lowest since 2010) and Ford (-8.4%) roughly match the market and hold onto their share – but Ford hits its lowest volume in Australia since 1968. Reversely, Mitsubishi (-2%) is the best performer in the Top 5, peaking at a record #2 overall in March, September, November and December. Just below at #6, Kia (+4.6%) is the only carmaker in the Top 13 to register a year-on-year gain, breaking its volume record for the 4th consecutive year as well as its ranking and share records. The following 5 brands are in dire straits: Volkswagen (-11.8% to lowest since 2011), Nissan (-12.3% to lowest since 2001), Honda (-14.9%) and Subaru (-20%) but none worse than Holden (-28.9%).

Holden crashes and burns in 2019 and announced the axing of the Commodore.

In one of the headline stories of the year, the only Australian car brand Holden is down to its lowest-ever annual share (3.8%), ranking (#10) and weakest volume since 1954, that’s 65 years ago. For perspective, Holden had never been outside the annual Australian Top 2 from its inception in 1948 until 2014, it slipped to #3 i 2015, #4 in 2016 and 2017, #6 in 2018 and #10 in 2019. In 1958 every second car sold was a Holden, whereas today Holden accounts for just 4 new cars out of every 100 sold. Holden and Ford are set to reach new lows in 2020 as the Commodore and Mondeo, Falcon’s replacement, will be axed this year, and now rely on utes (Australian slang for pickups) more than ever, the Ranger accounting for 64% of Ford’s sales and the Colorado making up 40% of Holden’s sales. Further down the ranking, year-on-year gains are sparse and include Ram (+296.7%) to 2.868, MG (+176.9%) up to a record #20 and 8.326 sales, Haval (+169.5%), Great Wall (+78.7%), Rolls Royce (+37.5%), Skoda (+20.6%), Volvo (+16.2%), Lexus (+9%), LDV (+6.9%), Lamborghini (+9.7%), Ferrari (+6.6%), Porsche (+6.4%) and BMW (+1.1%).

The Ford Ranger wins the lucrative 4×4 ute battle vs. the Hilux in 2019.

Over in the models ranking, the Toyota Hilux (-7.8%) achieves a 4th consecutive year in pole position and is on a streak of 26 straight months at #1, the longest such run in over 16 years, since the estimated 50+ consecutive wins of the Holden Commodore up to August 2003. The Ford Ranger (-3.5%) is slowly getting closer, making sure 2019 marks the third straight year with two pickup trucks atop the Australian charts. Even though the Hilux outsells the entire Holden range for the first time, there are some clouds at the horizon as the Ranger wins the lucrative 4×4 ute battle for the first time ever at 37.004 (+0.3%) vs. 36.325 (-5.8%), meaning the two nameplates would still top the Australian models charts even if only their 4×4 variants were counted. The Hilux compensates with a best-selling 4×2 variant at 11.324 above the Isuzu D-Max (5.116) and Ranger (3.956), but things could get trickier come H2 2020 as Ford just announced the launch of a V8 Ranger variant which is sure to excite Aussie buyers.

The Mitsubishi ASX breaks into the annual Top 10 for the first time.

The Toyota Corolla (-13.7%) remains the best-selling passenger car in the country but its days on top may be counted. Indeed the Hyundai i30 (+0.7%) which we test drove last year and most strikingly the Kia Cerato (+16.8%) – whose test drive we will report on shortly – lodging volume, share and ranking records (#9) start to be threatening just as the Mazda3 (-19.7%) implodes due to the new gen’s excessive pricing. Note the Mitsubishi Triton (+3.7%) signs a new volume record and a very first incursion inside the annual Top 5, making it 3 pickup trucks inside the Top 5 for the first time in history. Similarly to the Corolla, the days of the Mazda CX-5 (-2.4%) as the country’s best-selling SUV – it celebrates 7 consecutive years at #1 in 2019 – may also be counted as the Toyota RAV4 (+9.5%) is pushing strongly with a new volume record despite stock issues and the Mitsubishi ASX (+9.3%) snaps its very first Top 10 finish. Other volume record-breakers in 2019 include the Mitsubishi Outlander (#14), Subaru Forester (#18) beating a 9 year-old record and Hyundai Kona (#25).

Previous month: Australia November 2019: Market down for 20th straight month to lowest November in 11 years

Previous year: Australia 2018: Toyota Hilux 3peats, breaks records in market down 3% and The State by State best-sellers

Two years ago: Australia 2017: Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger top record market and The State by State best-sellers

Full Year 2019 Top 50 All-brands and Top 335 All-models vs. Full Year 2018 figures below.

Full December 2019 Top 48 All-brands and Top 275 All-models below.

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