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by Tim Beissmann

The Australian automotive industry has made a slow start to 2011, suffering from reduced sales in a disaster-riddled Queensland. The story of the month was without doubt the performance of the traditional local heroes – Commodore and Falcon – who were overwhelmed by a raft of smaller Asian imports.

Official VFACTS data released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) shows that 73,584 passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles were sold in January 2011, down 1.7 percent (1280 vehicles) over January 2010.

The Toyota Corolla, buoyed by cut-price financing from Toyota Australia, finished miles ahead of the competition, leading the Mazda3 and the Holden Commodore.

Corolla sales were up 49.2 percent over the first month of 2010, while the Mazda3 added 11.9 percent and the Commodore lost 18.4 percent.

The Ford Falcon plummeted out of the top 10, landing in 13th position overall, down 50.1 percent compared with January 2010. Its 1157 January figure was just 30 units ahead of the Fiesta and 100 clear of the Focus.

Top 10 sales by model:

  1. Toyota Corolla – 4045
  2. Mazda3 – 3605
  3. Holden Commodore – 2645
  4. Toyota HiLux – 2491
  5. Hyundai Getz – 2167
  6. Holden Cruze – 2060
  7. Nissan Navara – 1804
  8. Toyota Yaris – 1793
  9. Subaru Impreza – 1765
  10. Hyundai i30 – 1675

Toyota was again the top-selling manufacturer, with its market share increasing from 19.5 percent in 2010 to 20.1 percent.

Holden maintained second position (although with a 2.6 percent reduction in market share), while Mazda leapfrogged Ford into third position.

Top 10 sales by marque:

  1. Toyota – 14,817
  2. Holden – 8385
  3. Mazda – 7200
  4. Ford – 6413
  5. Hyundai – 6410
  6. Nissan – 4876
  7. Mitsubishi – 4537
  8. Subaru – 3531
  9. Volkswagen – 2408
  10. Honda – 2227

Despite the reduction compared with 2010, FCAI chief executive, Andrew McKellar, was upbeat about January’s sales, calling it a “robust” result.

“It is encouraging to see that private buyers remained confident throughout January with sales to those customers up 13.6 percent while business purchases declined,” Mr McKellar said.

Sales in Queensland dropped 12.8 percent – almost 2000 vehicles – as a result of the floods.

“Obviously new vehicle sales in Queensland have taken a hit as people concentrate on the flood recovery effort,” Mr McKellar said.

“We can expect sales in Queensland to be slower in the short-term but will pick up in the months ahead as people begin to look for replacement vehicles.”

Not surprisingly, the large passenger car segment was the worst performer in January. Sales were down 30.9 percent compared with January 2010. Traditional large cars now make up just 6.9 percent of the total market.

Small and light vehicles increased their market share by 3.0 percent and 2.6 percent respectively, and now account for 43.1 percent of total market combined.

Twelve of the top 16 selling vehicles in the country in January were either light or small vehicles.

Interestingly, however, it was the large SUV segment that displayed the highest growth over last January. The only two vehicles in that segment – the Nissan Patrol and the Toyota LandCruiser – enjoyed sales increases of 46.4 percent and 23.4 percent respectively.




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