The first six months of this year saw more new vehicles roll off showroom floors than any other first half in Australia’s history. A record 112,566 vehicles found new homes in June, pushing Australia’s first-half tally to 547,854 – eclipsing the previous record of 542,695 in 2008.
The days of the traditional Australian-made family cars duking it out for sales supremacy are long gone. The Holden Commodore, which was Australia’s sales king for 15 consecutive years between 1996 and 2010, has been usurped by three small cars – including its production line buddy the Holden Cruze, which is just 11cm shorter than the original 1978 VB Commodore – and the Toyota HiLux workhorse.
While the Mazda3 only just pipped it by 812 units last year, a 25 per cent decline in the first half of 2012 puts the Commodore in danger of slipping out of the top five come the end of the year. The Hyundai i30 is snapping at its heels in sixth just 1860 units adrift, and on the back of the May launch of the all-new model, closed the gap by almost 300 cars in June alone.
The forecast is no sunnier in the blue corner either. The Falcon, which has almost exclusively been Ford Australia’s top-selling model since first going on sale in 1960, has fallen to fourth in the pecking order this year behind the Focus, Territory and Ranger, and is just clinging to 20th position overall with a 44-car buffer over the Toyota Kluger.
Stuck on the same slippery slope as the Commodore, Falcon sedan sales are also down 25 per cent this year compared to last. The Broadmeadows-built model is starting from a significantly lower base, however, and with just 6846 cars delivered so far this year, the large sedan is guaranteed to hit a new 12-month low by the time January rolls around.
But as one era ends a new one begins. At the top of this year’s table we have a ding-dong battle between two unlikely rivals: the carryover champ, the Mazda3, and the blue-collar HiLux ute. The Mazda3 stormed to a 4683-unit lead in the first quarter, but an unbeaten run at number one since then has seen the HiLux close the gap to just 2401 sales at the halfway point. If it can keep up the momentum, the HiLux could become the first commercial vehicle in modern history to top Australia’s sales charts.
Small and city cars dominate the pointy end of the table, filling nine of the top 15 places, although it’s SUVs that are taking the biggest strides forward in the current market. While the light- and small-car segments have grown 0.3 per cent and five per cent so far this year respectively, all four SUV segments are roaring ahead: small (+64 per cent), medium (+25 per cent), large (+30 per cent) and upper large (+27 per cent). SUVs account for 10 of the top 30 cars, led by the Toyota Prado in 11th place.
The only segment that comes close in terms of percentage growth is the sports car segment, which is up 50 per cent across the board and has exactly doubled in volume in the sub-$80,000 sector. The introduction of cars like the Hyundai Veloster, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, Toyota 86 and the Volkswagen Scirocco has injected a new sense excitement into the affordable end of the market, and consumers have welcomed it with open arms (and wallets).
Toyota will notch up a decade as Australia’s most popular automotive brand by the end of this year, and there’s no sign of anyone stealing its crown in the short to medium term either. Second-placed Holden is already almost 50,000 vehicles adrift and is heading in the wrong direction, down 10 per cent so far this year. With sales up 19 per cent, Mazda appears destined to push Holden all the way and is likely to finish a close third in 2012.
Other wars will also continue to be waged until December, including the fight for fourth between Hyundai and Ford, the stoush for seventh between Mitsubishi and Volkswagen, and the tussle for 10th between Honda and Kia.
Meanwhile, others at the bottom of the table like Chrysler and Proton, which are ranked first and sixth for negative growth in 2012 respectively, will look to new product in the form of the 300C and the Preve to turn around a dismal year.
With the market tipped to blast past 2007’s all-time record and exceed 1.05 million vehicle sales this year, there are still plenty of cars to be sold, and no doubt many stories to unfold.
Top 50 Best-selling Vehicles – 2012 to date
Top 25 Best-selling Brands – 2012 to date
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