July VFACTS new car sales data sourced from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries shows that at the halfway point in 2014 buyers are moving away from Chinese- and Japanese-built vehicles, while German- and US-made models are soaring.
The Chinese car experiment is failing as vehicles built in that country - such as the Great Wall Motors ute and SUV range and Chery small car line-up - have seen a year-to-date drop of 49.6 per cent, with only 2202 examples sold. If the comparison between this year and last looks bad, things appear doomed when you consider the record-setting sales levels in 2012 when cars from that country struck 12,139 units for the year.
Cars built in Japan have slipped, down 9.8 per cent to June 30, 2014. It seems a small percentage, but the actual number of cars makes the drop appear more dramatic - in 2014, there have been 18,428 fewer Japanese-made vehicles sold here. Some of that could come down to production switches - the new Toyota Corolla sedan is now coming from Thailand rather than Japan, for example, but the real issue is that some big-name Japanese brands are struggling.
Suzuki is down 24.4 per cent so far this year (8833 sales YTD), while Honda is down a staggering 34.1 per cent (15,443 YTD) on the back of the runout Jazz city car plummeting to only 144 sales for June. Even Australia's best-selling brand for the past decade, Toyota, has dropped off this year, down 4.7 per cent so far.
Other nations that have seen drops include England (down 13.2 per cent YTD), Thailand (down 7.4 per cent YTD), France (-6.4 per cent) and Sweden (-6.1 per cent). Australian-made vehicles - such as the Holden Commodore, Holden Cruze, Ford Falcon, Ford Territory, Toyota Camry and Toyota Aurion - have dipped 2.5 per cent YTD in an overall market down 2.4 per cent.
While the market on the whole is slow, there have been some countries that have seen big jumps.
Sales of German-made models have increased by 18.3 per cent, up from 36,561 sales at the end of June 2013 to 42,235 units at the end of June this year. The trend coincides with a strong showing from premium and luxury brands in the opening six months of 2014 - Volkswagen (up 3.3 per cent YTD), BMW (+8.7 per cent), Mercedes-Benz (+14.3 per cent), Audi (+18.5 per cent) and Porsche (+47.0 per cent) all performing well.
Vehicles made in India - the Ford EcoSport and Suzuki Alto, for instance - have jumped 17.1 per cent. Models from the US have also seen strong rises, up 53.6 per cent (Jeep is following the same track, up 43.2 per cent YTD), while Italian-made cars have jumped a huge 102.9 per cent, with Alfa Romeo (up 99.4 per cent YTD) and Fiat (+222.1 per cent YTD) reaping the benefits - although Fiat's best-selling model, the 500, is actually built in Poland. The Slovak Republic has seen the biggest rise in units sourced, with a 111.1 per cent rise on the back of a production switch - all Kia Sportage models are now sourced from there.
The biggest mover, though, is Hungary. The European nation has seen imports jump by an astronomical 12,050 per cent (to a tiny 241 units from only 2 vehicles to the end of June 2013). The Audi A3 sedan and A3 Cabriolet are both built in Hungary.