The Australian new car market hit an all-time sales high last year, up two per cent to nearly 1.18 million units.
Many brands experienced record highs, substantial yearly growth, or both. But some went the other direction.
Brands that lost out in 2016, by volume, include:
Jeep hit 30,408 sales in 2014 in its prime. And considering SUV sales are booming – up another eight per cent last year – the company’s drop bodes poorly.
The reasons are various, from some bad publicity to price hikes thanks to unfriendly currency. More here: New Fiat Chrysler Australia boss ready to turn local operation around.
Leading the slide in 2016 was the Jeep Cherokee, down 47 per cent to 6379 sales. Also down were the Cherokee (down 66 per cent to 2079 in a segment up double digits), Compass (down 56 per cent to 1097), Patriot (down 47 per cent to 731) and Wrangler (down 39 per cent to 1283).
Set against this was the Renegade baby crossover in its first full year of sales, with 1051 units, up 260 per cent, though its market share was only 1.1 per cent.
It’s not all doom and gloom for Jeep, which has the brand new Compass (pictured above) lobbing later this year, promising to give sales a kick.
Holden was beaten by Hyundai (101,555) this year, and relegated to fourth spot on the sales charts, ahead of a resurgent Ford (up 15 per cent to 81,207). The Lion brand’s sales fell more than eight per cent.
Despite the SUV boom, combined Captiva sales fell by about 4500 units, while sales of the Australian-made Cruze dropped 15 per cent as the car was phased out, to be replaced by an imported car in a few months time.
Also down was the Barina (minus 31 per cent), Caprice (down 28 per cent) and Colorado 4×2 (down 20.5 per cent), not offset by good growth from the Trax (up 26 per cent) and the introduction of a new Astra range near the end of the year.
But most concerning to Holden must be sales of the Commodore. Not because they were down – though they were, by seven per cent – but because combined sales of the sedan, Sportwagon and Ute represent almost one-third of the company’s total sales.
Considering the Australian Commodore dies at year’s end and will be replaced by an import, and since the Ute will disappear completely, Holden has its work cut out, despite the new Astra, Cruze, Trax, Commodore and Acadia here now or due soon.
Volkswagen had a PR nightmare in 2016, with the diesel emissions saga dragging on and on – though sales of the company’s diesel passenger cars were scarcely affected, simply because the vast majority sold in Australia are petrol.
Worst hit for the brand was the Golf, down 2622 units (or 12 per cent) to 19,470 units. Sales at the top end (GTI, R) remain good, but clearly some buyers after an everyday small hatch looked elsewhere in 2016.
Also well down was the Polo, by 16 per cent to 8186 units, though this is about line-ball with the overall decline in the light segment.
The company was also hurt by a lack of Tiguan stock during the changeover to the new model, though overall sales only dropped by 360 units. Other losers were the Jetta (down 618), Touareg (down 400) and Amarok (down 284).
Of course, with the Amarok V6 here, the updated Amarok four-cylinder and Golf 7.5 update due later this year, and a full year of new-generation Tiguan sales on offer, you’d expect a bounce. We will have to see.
Another member of the Fiat Chrysler family, alongside Jeep, to struggle in 2016. Fiat’s passenger and SUV family, sold separately to Fiat Professional vans (up 2.6 per cent), fell 39 per cent.
The core Fiat 500 fell 45 per cent to 1178, hurt by price increases and a shrinking segment, while the Freemont MPV fell 64 per cent to 464. Meanwhile the Panda and Punto were both axed, though they managed a combined 383 sales in 2015.
The French brand had a hard time in Australia last year, dropping 22 per cent. Its total of 3129 units compared to more than 11,000 for fellow Gallic brand Renault.
Of course, measuring sales drops by gross volume is one way to do it, but the other way is to look at percentage declines, which allows smaller-scale brands to be included.
Chery – down 90.5 per cent to 19 units, brand not currently selling cars
Dodge – down 69.1 per cent to 366
SsangYong – down 62.9 per cent to 371
Proton – down 56.8 per cent to 182
Alfa Romeo – down 54.9 per cent to 711
Chrysler – down 50.1 per cent to 462
Jeep – down 48.3 per cent to
Fiat – down 38.8 per cent to 2414
Lotus – down 35.4 per cent to 31
Great Wall – down 22.5 per cent to 110