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by Tim Beissmann

Despite a slow final month of sales, the Australian automotive industry has posted its second-highest annual sales figure ever in 2010 and exceeded one million units for just the third time in history.

Official VFACTS data released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) shows that 1,035,574 passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles were sold in 2010, up 10.5 percent (98,246 vehicles) over 2009.

The Holden Commodore held off the Toyota Corolla to take the title as Australia’s top-selling vehicle for the 15th consecutive year.

Commodore sales were up 3.5 percent in 2010 compared with 2009 (45,956 vs 44,387), while Corolla enjoyed a sales increase of 6.7 percent (41,632 vs 39,013).

Top 10 sales by model:

  1. Holden Commodore – 45,956
  2. Toyota Corolla – 41,632
  3. Toyota HiLux – 39,896
  4. Mazda3 – 39,003
  5. Hyundai i30 – 29,772
  6. Ford Falcon – 29,516
  7. Holden Cruze – 28,334
  8. Toyota Camry – 25,014
  9. Mitsubishi Lancer – 23,076
  10. Hyundai Getz – 21,547

Toyota held its position as the top-selling brand – a title it has held since 2003. Despite its dominance, Toyota’s total market share fell from 21.4 percent in 2009 to 20.7 percent.

Second-placed Holden’s market share was unchanged at 12.8 percent, while Ford in third place lost more than one percent, falling from 10.3 percent to 9.2 percent.

Top 10 sales by marque:

  1. Toyota – 214,718
  2. Holden – 132,923
  3. Ford – 95,284
  4. Mazda – 84,777
  5. Hyundai – 80,038
  6. Nissan – 62,676
  7. Mitsubishi – 62,496
  8. Honda – 40,375
  9. Subaru – 40,025
  10. Volkswagen – 38,016

FCAI chief executive, Andrew McKellar, said the million-plus result was an “exceptional outcome” and a strong rebound following the global financial crisis of 2009.

“The result is very encouraging given all the challenges of the year – the prospect of higher interest rates, political uncertainty and the withdrawal of market stimulus,” Mr McKellar said.

“Consumers clearly recognised the safety and environmental benefits of upgrading to a new vehicle and in such a competitive market they were rewarded with good vehicles at good prices.”

Size – or more accurately, lack of – was king in 2010. The compact SUV segment was the biggest improver in 2010, with sales up 36.6 percent over 2009 levels. The light and small car segments also added 18.4 percent and 11.8 percent respectively over the previous 12 months.

Combined, those three segments accounted for 491,868 sales in 2010 – or 59.4 percent of the total new vehicle market (827,407 units, excluding commercial vehicles).

Every SUV segment experienced gains, and the total SUV market increased 25.0 percent (235,285 vs 188,153).

Not surprisingly, the large car segment was the only one to lose ground compared with 2009, with sales slipping 3.1 percent.

The Commodore was the only vehicle in the large sub-$70K segment to make significant gains.

Falcon sales fell 4.9 percent for the year from 31,023 to 29,516, while the Toyota Aurion fared even worse, down 15.4 percent to 11,764.

Sales of diesel and hybrid vehicles were well ahead in both private and non-private and passenger car and SUV segments for the year, and another milestone for 2010 was the introduction of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, which saw 112 electric vehicles registered in Australia for the first time.

Often forgotten in the hype of the year-end sales figures is the month of December. In 2010, December was the only month to record sales figures below the comparative month in 2009.

In total, 86,587 passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles were sold in the last month of 2010, down 2.4 percent (2121 vehicles) on the same month in 2009.

Toyota’s 2.9 percent finance offer helped push Corolla almost 1200 units clear of the Commodore, while Camry and Yaris also benefitted from the discount.

It was a tough month for the Falcon, however, sliding to eighth position and declining almost 30 percent compared with December 2009.

Top 10 sales by model:

  1. Toyota Corolla – 4955
  2. Holden Commodore – 3778
  3. Toyota HiLux – 3527
  4. Mazda3 – 3419
  5. Toyota Camry – 3236
  6. Holden Cruze – 2081
  7. Hyundai i30 – 1986
  8. Ford Falcon – 1939
  9. Toyota Yaris – 1919
  10. Nissan Navara – 1696

Despite the hot pricing, Toyota’s sales in December were only 1.6 percent ahead of the same month in 2009, although Holden, Ford and Mazda were all down considerably compared with December 2009.

Top 10 sales by marque:

  1. Toyota – 20,940
  2. Holden – 10,444
  3. Ford – 7219
  4. Mazda – 6989
  5. Hyundai – 5877
  6. Nissan – 5561
  7. Mitsubishi – 5169
  8. Honda – 3279
  9. Volkswagen – 2747
  10. Subaru – 2740

The upper-large segment was particularly strong (up 164.7 percent over 2009) due to strong Caprice sales and huge discounts on the Chrysler 300C.

The large car (down 16.8 percent) and medium SUV (down 21.2 percent) segments were the biggest losers, while sales of light, small, medium and sports cars were all well ahead of their yearly averages.

Looking ahead to 2011, Mr McKellar said he expected the year to be one of consolidation with the prospect of further improvement based on last year’s growth.

“With continuing strong levels of vehicle affordability there is no reason why the new vehicle market won’t continue to perform better than other areas of the economy,” he said.




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