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Australia July 2020: Toyota RAV4 scores first win, ends 32 months of Hilux reign, market pulled -12.8% by Melbourne lockdown

The Toyota RAV4 is the best-selling vehicle in Australia for the first time.

The Australian new car market skids down -12.8% year-on-year in July to 72.505 units, marking a gruelling 28th consecutive month of year-on-year decline and sending the market to its weakest July mark in 18 years: since 2002 (69.582). Australian sales also face a steeper drop than in in June (-6.4%), for two main reasons: a stricter Covid-19 lockdown in Melbourne and stock shortages due to stronger-than-expected June sales and factory shutdowns earlier in the year in Thailand and Germany notably. The year-to-date tally is now down -19.2% to 514.920 units, also the weakest in 18 years at this stage of the year since the 476.748 units of 2002. Facing a worsening Covid crisis, Victoria currently accounts for roughly 97% of the country’s new daily cases. Its capital city Melbourne is now under a very strict Stage 4 lockdown until at least late September that includes a 8pm-5am curfew and a closure order for all car dealerships. Regional Victoria is under a less strict Stage 3 lockdown and some new vehicles can be ordered online and home delivered but the large majority of sales in the State occur in Melbourne anyway. Because Victoria traditionally accounts for just under 30% of the Australian market, we expect a tough couple of months nationally. As such, we have recalibrated our 2020 Australia forecast with steeper falls in August (-20%) and September (-15%) but a stronger recovery towards the end of the year with November at -3% and December at -5%. The end result is unchanged with a 2020 market down -16% to 897.000 units which would be the lowest annual volume in Australia in, once again, 18 years: since 2002 (824.309).

Daily Covid-19 cases in Australia. Source Johns Hopkins University.

Logically, sales sink -27.8% or 6.643 units year-on-year in Victoria to 17.487, meaning 60% of the national market’s decline in July can be attributed to that state alone. Expect this ration to reach close to 100% in the coming months. Despite most businesses now back to normal, sales are also down markedly in Tasmania (-22.6%), Queensland (-9.1%) and New South Wales (-7.8%). Western Australia (-1%), Northern Territory (-4.5%) and South Australia (-5%) resist better while as it has been the case for the past few months due to replacement vehicles after a devastating hail storm earlier in the year, Australian Capital Territory sales are up by a spectacular 30.6%. For the first time in Australian history, SUVs account for over half of the total market at 50.4% vs. 45.6% in July 2019 and 42.8% in July 2018, thanks to sales down just -3.6% to 36.560. Passenger Cars crumble -28.5% to 18.149 and 25% share vs. 30.2% last year and 33.4% two years ago and Light Commercials (mainly pickups) edge down -10.8% to 14.898 and 20.5% share vs. 20% in July 2019 and 19.9% in July 2018. Private sales show impressive stability at +1.2% to 37.501 and 51.7% share vs. 44.6% last year, while fleet sales skid -16.1% to 28.127 and 38.8% share vs. 40.3%, government deliveries are off -8.3% to 2.633 and sales to rental companies implode -53.4% to just 1.356. Australians bought new vehicles imported from Japan at 24.456 (-12.9%), Thailand at 16.150 (-19.2%), South Korea at 9.489 (-18.6%), Germany at 4.671 (-25.6%), the US at 2.933 (-5.8%) and China at 2.357 continuing its market-defying climb at +51.9%.

MG soars 58.8% and breaks into the Top 15 for the first time.

Toyota (-13.2%) roughly matches the market to keep firm control of the brands ranking at 21.4% share above Mazda (-5.1%) at 10.8%) and Mitsubishi (-10.7%) at 6.5%. Hyundai (-33.6%) is in dire straits and ends the month only 9 sales above sister brand Kia (+2.6%) in contrasting insolent health and the only Top 10 brand in positive alongside Volkswagen (+2.8%). Mercedes (-1.4%) and Ford (-6.7%) resists well but Nissan (-23.6%) and Subaru (-18.5%) struggle at the tail end of the Top 10. Suzuki (+26.8%) climbs 4 spots on June to #12, its highest Australian ranking since January 2013, Audi (+53.3%) scores a second consecutive double-digit gain while MG (+58.8%) breaks into the Top 15 for the first time at #15 and scores a new share record at 1.54%. Fellow Chinese Haval (+139.3%) signs new ranking and share records at #24 and 0.5% with Great Wall (+41.7%) and LDV (+22.4%) also euphoric. Lamborghini (+140%), McLaren (+100%), Alfa Romeo (+67.9%), Maserati (+65.6%), Ssangyong (+62%), Rolls Royce (+33%), Volvo (+23.1%), Jeep (+19.5%) and Peugeot (+16.5%) are among the biggest gainers further down. Meanwhile national treasure Holden (-65.9%) is fast disappearing, with local outlet reporting less than 2.000 new vehicles left in dealerships to be sold.

Haval surges 139.3% to new share and ranking records.

We have a very rare event in the Australian models ranking this month: a new leader! Thanks to additional stock coming from Japan to fill orders that had been pending for up to 10 months, the Toyota RAV4 surges 78.1% year-on-year to become the first ever SUV in Australian history to top the monthly charts after a 26-year career in the country. Over 80% of its July tally are the hybrid variant we have driven to the northernmost point in Australia. The RAV4 smashes its volume record at 4.309 (vs. 3.375 last February) and its market share record at 5.9% (vs. 4.9% last April). This is a new SUV volume record, eclipsing the Hyundai Tucson’s 3.741 units from June 2017. For perspective, the RAV4 remains the only SUV to have ever ranked on the Australian podium and has now done so four times after placing #3 in May 2019 and #2 in both February and April 2020. The next best SUV performers are the Mazda CX-5 at a record #5 hit ten times between April 2017 and May 2020, the Mitsubishi ASX at #5 in October 2018 and September 2019 and the Ford Territory at #6 in December 2004. In terms of market share, no other SUV has ever managed to hold 3% share or more (vs. 5.9% for the RAV4), with the Ford Territory in December 2005 and the Mazda CX-5 in January 2019 both reaching 2.9%.

The Mazda CX-30 breaks into the Australian Top 20 for the first time.

Finally, the Toyota RAV4 ends a whopping 32 consecutive months of domination by the Toyota Hilux, the longest such winning streak since the Holden Commodore in 2003. In fact the Hilux (-12.3%) drops to #3 this month below the Ford Ranger (-2%) as many showrooms struggle with stock shortages due to record June volumes and Thai factory shutdowns. The Ranger also easily wins the 4×4 ute battle at 2.799 vs. 2.051 for the HIlux and 20.205 vs. 19.327 YTD. The Toyota Corolla (-32.4%) remains above the Hyundai i30 (-22.5%) in the Passenger Car charts despite a steep fall, with the Toyota (-19.8%) and Mazda3 (-35.4%) rounding out the Top 10. The Mitsubishi Triton (+4.5%) bucks the negative trend at #7 while the Mazda CX-5 (-20%) remains the #2 SUV in the country, now teased by the Mazda CX-3 (+5.4%) up a gargantuan 21 spots on June to break its ranking record at #8 (previous best #9 in April and July 2016). The Toyota Kluger (+29.5%) is up 11 ranks to #14, its highest ranking in 6 years, while the three most popular recent launches (<12 months), the Mazda CX-30 (#18), Kia Seltos (#22) and VW T-Cross (#54) all break their ranking record. The Mazda CX-8 (+102%), VW Amarok (+64.8%), Mercedes A-Class (+57.2%), Suzuki Vitara (+51.7%), MG3 (+45.7%), Mitsubishi Pajero Sport (+42.5%) and LDV T60 (+30.4%) also impress in the remainder of the Top 50. This month we welcome the new Land Rover Defender at #143, the Ram 1500 Warlock at #211 and the Skoda Kamiq at #227.

Previous month: Australia June 2020: Tax incentives thin loss to -6.4%, Mercedes, Lexus, Hilux, Ranger and U.S. pickups hit records

One year ago: Australia July 2019: 16th drop in a row sends market to lowest in 7 years, Toyota Corolla (+25.1%), RAV4 (+30.5%) survive

Full July 2020 Top 48 All-brands and Top 310 All-models below.

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