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Overall passenger vehicle sales continued their slide in April, but this was not the case at the figurative top end of town.

As we have reported, overall passenger vehicle sales fell 10.3 per cent last month against a total market that actually grew overall, largely on the back of SUVs, up 17 per cent.

But contrasting the declines in most mainstream passenger segments from micro cars to people-movers, nearly all premium segments, from light cars over $25,000 to sports cars over $200,000, were in positive territory come the end of April.

More value-packed offerings in the ‘affordable’ premium space continue to conquest from conventionally mainstream brands, while sales in the upper echelons of the market show that, irrespective of most economic slowdowns, some people will always have the means to splurge.

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Perhaps nothing is more indicative of this statistic than the performance of Mercedes-Benz, Australia’s top-selling luxury car brand. The company sold 2654 units last month, up 17.3 per cent, and enough to be this market’s 10th biggest-selling auto company overall.

But break it down to strictly passenger vehicles sales (meaning you exclude SUVs and commercials), and the company’s 1871 units for the month placed it in a rather remarkable sixth position.

Leading the charge was the C-Class, which once again trailed only the fleet-focused Toyota Camry in the mid-sized market by recording 681 registrations.

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Mercedes’ total exceeded the passenger car sales of Ford (1190), Honda (1182), Kia (1346), Mitsubishi (737), Nissan (808), Subaru (775) and Suzuki (920).

And it wasn’t just Benz. In said passenger space, BMW moved 1145 units, enough for the final place in the top 10. Audi, with 1016, finished 11th.

It all points to one thing: people are buying fewer and fewer passenger cars, but those that are buying them are increasingly going premium.

Segment breakdown for April:

  • Light < $25K — 6748 units, down 4.7 per cent (up 10.5 per cent year-to-date)
  • Light > $25K — 431 units, up 2.9 per cent (up 23.5 per cent YTD)
  • Small < $40K — 1348 units, up 19.3 per cent (up 10.8 per cent YTD)
  • Small > $40K — 14,840 units, down 15.9 per cent (down 9.1 per cent YTD)
  • Medium < $60K — 2805 units, down 14.3 per cent (down 4.3 per cent YTD)
  • Medium > $60K — 1958 units, up 25.4 per cent (up 29.8 per cent YTD) 
  • Large < $70K — 2810 units, down 18.8 per cent (down 14.1 per cent YTD)
  • Large > $70K — 348 units, down 2.8 per cent (down 9.4 per cent YTD)
  • Upper Large < $100K — 161 units, down 41.5 per cent (down 31 per cent YTD)
  • Upper Large > $100K — 80 units, up 14.3 per cent (down 11.1 per cent YTD)
  • People movers < $60K — 786 units, down 5.3 per cent (down 2.2 per cent YTD)
  • People movers > $60K — 13 units, down 74 per cent (down 53.9 per cent YTD)
  • Sports < $80K — 1106 units, up 4.7 per cent (down 15.6 per cent YTD)
  • Sports > $80K — 587 units, up 6.7 per cent (break-even YTD)
  • Sports > $200K — 144 units, up 63.6 per cent (up 29.8 per cent YTD)



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