With the first half of 2011 now behind us, it’s an intriguing time to analyse the new vehicle sales data and highlight the winners, losers, trends and surprises of the Australian automotive industry so far this year.
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Between January and June 2011, a total of 496,236 new passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles were registered in Australia, representing a 6.6 percent decline compared with the same period in 2010, when 531,168 new vehicles were registered.

Supply issues from Japan since the March earthquake and tsunami have had a big impact. Sales at the beginning of 2010 were also very strong, as the nation continued to emerge from the global financial crisis and import tariffs were halved to just five per cent.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) is “hopeful” that Australia will still reach one million sales in 2011, although CEO Andrew McKellar believes the recent hike in the Fringe Benefits Tax on cars could have a negative effect on the industry’s recovery.

2011 sales2010 salesDifference2011 market share2010 market shareDifference

Toyota Australia’s sales have declined more than 22,000 units in the first six months of the year due to supply disruptions from Japan. Local Camry and Aurion production was halved for one month, and returned to normal levels on June 9. Every model in Toyota’s range has gone backwards this year compared with their results last year (excluding the Rukus and FJ Cruiser, which have not been on sale long enough to provide accurate data). Toyota Australia expects vehicle availability and delivery to normalise in the second half of 2011.

Holden’s sales have also dropped off more than the industry average. The Commodore has (at least for now) lost its title as ‘Australia’s favourite car’, overtaken by the Mazda3. Commodore sales have fallen 9.1 per cent this year, although considering the large car segment has plummeted 24.6 per cent overall, the Commodore is, relatively speaking, outperforming the market. The reduction in Commodore sales was almost perfectly offset by the increase in Cruze sales, which has rapidly established itself as one of the nation’s favourite cars.

Despite the highly publicised collapse of the Falcon (down 43.2 per cent this year), Ford Australia’s sales and market share have decreased less than Toyota and Holden. The Fiesta, Focus, Mondeo, Ranger and Escape have all outperformed the first half of 2010 by a long way to keep Ford Australia’s balance sheets looking reasonably healthy.

Mazda and Hyundai have now well and truly joined the race for third position overall, bucking the industry trend and recording sales growth for the first half of 2011. Mazda2, Mazda3 and BT-50 have been the only winners for Mazda, while the Mazda6 and CX-9 have lost favour with new car buyers. For Hyundai, i45 and ix35 have both soared beyond 2010’s levels. The challenge for Hyundai will be recovering from the phase out of the Getz over the next few months. Despite its age, the Getz has consistently ranked inside the top 10 this year and averaged more than 1500 sales, while the i20 has averaged less than 500 units.

Volkswagen Australia has been the clear standout in 2011. Sales of the Golf are up 11.4 per cent, catapulting it into the top 10, and remarkably fourth position in June. On a pure numbers basis, the Polo has increased more than any other model in the range, up from 973 units in the first half of 2010 to 2240 so far this year.

In contrast, Honda Australia has been smashed, with all models down between 7.7 and 49.0 per cent (except the recently launched Insight, which has not yet been on sale for 12 months). Suzuki (12,837) and Kia (12,836) are snapping at Honda’s heels on the back of solid growth so far this year.

2011 sales2010 salesDifference
2Holden Commodore21,03223,125-9.1%
3Toyota HiLux18,52821,388-13.4%
4Holden Cruze16,32914,40313.4%
5Toyota Corolla15,77619,127-17.5%
6Hyundai i3014,91216,797-11.2%
7Nissan Navara12,26311,14710.0%
8Hyundai Getz10,05711,956-15.9%
9Mitsubishi Lancer984012,667-22.3%
10Volkswagen Golf9535856011.4%
11Mitsubishi Triton945987328.3%
12Ford Falcon908316,000-43.2%
13Toyota Camry890611,400-21.9%
14Ford Ranger8783699625.5%
16Toyota Yaris778811,077-29.7%
17Subaru Impreza682362808.6%
18Subaru Forester64937399-12.2%
19Ford Fiesta639858469.4%
20Suzuki Swift63446431-1.4%

The small car segment is the most popular in Australia, with 24.2 per cent of all new vehicles belonging to this category (up from 23.4 per cent last year). Light cars (13.8 per cent) and compact SUVs (11.6 per cent) strengthened their positions inside the top three, while 4x4 pick-ups (10.4 per cent) moved up to overtake the dwindling large car segment (7.9 per cent).

The number of locally manufactured cars sold in Australia decreased from 74,199 in the first half of last year to 63,089, a drop of 15 per cent. Holden sold more Australian-made vehicles than Ford and Toyota put together and recorded an 8.3 per cent increase over the first six months. Ford’s numbers are expected to pick up over the next 12 months with the introduction of the Falcon facelift, as well as EcoLPI and EcoBoost engine technologies. Toyota is also expected to refresh its Camry, Camry Hybrid and Aurion models in that period, while Holden will add the Cruze hatch in the fourth quarter of this year.

Australians are still slow on the uptake of diesel passenger cars, with diesel-powered models selling at a rate of one to every 11 petrol-powered cars. It’s a different story with SUVs however, with more than one in every three vehicles purchased fitted with a diesel engine.

What do you make of the results? What surprises you, and how do you see the rest of 2011 playing out? Are there any other numbers or statistics you’re dying to know that weren’t included above? Feel free to give us your take in the comments section below.