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by Tim Beissmann

Australia’s automotive landscape is constantly evolving, and glancing back through history highlights some dramatic shifts in our brand preferences.

The following table compares 2015 year-to-date sales (January to April) versus comparative data from 2005:

Brand Current rank 2005 rank Current sales 2005 sales Change
Toyota 1 1  64,285 59,590 +7.9%
Mazda 2 4  36,348 22,641 +60.5%
Holden 3 2 31,853 57,655 -44.8%
Hyundai 4 8 30,823 14,728 +109.3%
Nissan 5 6 21,847 18,518 +18.0%
Ford 6 3 21,565 42,616 -49.4%
Mitsubishi 7 5 20,706 20,432 +1.3%
Volkswagen 8 13 19,383 4538 +327.1%
Subaru 9 9 13,381 12,129 +10.3%
Honda 10 7 12,205 15,184 -19.6%
Mercedes-Benz 11 11 11,474 5364 +113.9%
Kia 12 10 10,184 8636 +17.9%
Jeep 13 18 9671 1681 +475.3%
BMW 14 12 7408 4774 +55.2%
Audi 15 19 7196 1570 +358.3%

Many surprises jump out of this table.

That Toyota’s ranking as Australia’s favourite car brand hasn’t changed in a decade may not be one of them, though it’s interesting to note that 10 years ago it wasn’t the dominant force it is today.

With the Commodore firing on all cylinders, Holden was fighting a tight tussle with Toyota in 2005, and after four months of the year trailed its Japanese rival by fewer than 2000 sales.

But while Toyota’s sales have increased 7.9 per cent since then, Holden’s have plummeted 44.8 per cent, and its four-month tally is now less than half that of Toyota’s.

mazda-cx-3

Holden’s fall has opened the door to Mazda, which has opened up a healthy lead in the battle for second position in 2015. Mazda’s volume has expanded 60.5 per cent since 2005, when it was fighting with Mitsubishi over fourth place.

Ford’s fall from grace has been even more undignified. In 2005, it sat in third place, 20,000 units clear of its next closest rival. Today, it’s slumped to sixth position, with sales almost halving in the past decade.

Hyundai has raced past, jumping from eighth to fourth on the back of sales that have more than doubled in 10 years. As it stands, the South Korean marque is only 1000 units shy of knocking Holden off the podium.

Nissan has also crept past Ford in the early stages of this year. Its 18.0 per cent sales increase since 2005 is largely on pace with the industry as a whole, which has risen 14.7 per cent over the past decade.

Nipping at Ford’s heels is Mitsubishi, which has managed to break even (up 1.3 per cent) after farewelling its locally made large car, the 380, though it’s drifted from fifth position overall to seventh.

volkswagen-golf-r

The bolter in the top 10 is without question Volkswagen, whose sales have increased a whopping 327.1 per cent since 2005 (19,383 vs 4538). Remarkably, after sitting in 13th position a decade ago, it’s now knocking on the door of the top five, trailing Nissan by fewer than 2500 sales after the first four months of the year.

Ever-consistent Subaru remains in ninth position as it did in 2005, with sales increasing at a 10.3 per cent, just below the market average.

A 19.6 per cent decline in the past decade leaves Honda clinging to a spot in the top 10. Ten years ago it was holding off Hyundai; today its sales total well below half its Korean rival’s.

Honda’s biggest threat currently comes from Mercedes-Benz, which is banging down the door to the year-to-date top 10, having snuck into 10th place for the month of April. It’s interesting to note, however, that despite more than doubling its sales since 2005, the premium German car maker hasn’t improved its ranking, still sitting at 11th overall.

It has overtaken Kia, however, which has slipped from 10th to 12th on the back of more modest 17.9 per cent sales growth.

jeep-grand-cherokee

Directly beneath it is Jeep, the biggest mover in our top 15. The iconic American brand has benefitted more than most from Australia’s insatiable demand for SUVs, and has seen its sales increase almost sixfold over the past decade, propelling it from 18th position to 13th.

Emphasising Australia’s growing preference for luxury cars, the final two spots in today’s top 15 are filled by BMW and Audi. The former has actually slipped two places overall, though its sales have increased 55.2 per cent over the past decade. The latter has experienced a significantly sharper rise, delivering almost five times as many cars in the first four months of 2015 as it did in 2005.

So while Toyota looks to have already sewn up 2015’s sales race, some intriguing battles will play out throughout the remaining eight months of the year.

Can Holden wrestle back second spot from Mazda, or will it have its hands full keeping Hyundai out of third?

Can Ford push back into the top five, or is its downward spiral set to continue?

Can Volkswagen claim the scalp of one of Nissan, Ford and Mitsubishi this year?

Can Mercedes-Benz become the first premium brand to crack the annual top 10?

And can Audi continue its upward progression and knock off rival BMW by year’s end?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.




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