September was the first positive sales month for Australia’s new vehicle market in all of 2014, but more marked was the even greater increase in SUV sales.
It’s no secret that these high-riding vehicles, no matter the size or capability, are increasingly the new default family cars. But SUV deliveries last month across various segments were particularly notable.
All told, there were 94,978 cars, SUVs and commercials delivered in September, up 2.5 per cent on the same month last year, though in real terms — considering the month in 2014 had one more selling day — the figure was not as rosy as it first appeared.
More importantly to this story, none of this ‘growth’ came from traditional passenger segments, which in fact diminished by about 4.0 per cent to 45,194 units.
Light commercial sales did their part, up 3.0 per cent to 11,444. But this wasn’t nearly enough to offset the ground lost by having about 2000 fewer passenger cars (sedans, hatchbacks, wagons and coupes) getting plates.
No, the engine of this market growth was the SUV market. Deliveries here were up 14.6 per cent on 2013, totalling 30,027 units, almost one-third of the total market. No matter how you cut it, SUVs killed it compared with the same month last year.
Most segments, from the small class dominated by the Hyundai ix35, the medium class won by the Mazda CX-5, and the large class led by the Toyota Prado and Jeep Grand Cherokee, were all appreciably stronger this year than the same time in 2013.
Here are the raw figures by segment:
Small SUV: 7254 units up 32.0 per cent; Premium Small SUV: 505 units up 19.4 per cent; Medium SUV: 9248 units up 14.9 per cent; Premium Medium SUV: 1081 units up 20.4 per cent; Large SUV: 9224 units up 7.1 per cent; Premium Large SUV: 1744 units up 4.7 per cent.
The top-sellers in each segment — though not necessarily the fastest-growing — respectively were the Hyundai ix35 (1802 units up 8.1 per cent); Audi Q3 (166 units down 6.2 per cent as new entries such as the Mercedes-Benz GLA conquested sales); Mazda CX-5 (2093 units up 25.3 per cent); Audi Q5 (270 units up 29.2 per cent), Toyota Prado; (1439 units up 27 per cent) and the BMW X5 (352 units down 19.5 per cent, hit hard by the Range Rover Sport that stole 215 sales, up in turn by about 150 per cent).
It’s only the extreme end of the market, the Upper Large SUV segments both under $100K (led by the Toyota LandCruiser) and over $100K (led by the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class), that fell compared with 2013, by 7.8 per cent and 3.2 per cent apiece.
Delve further into the figures and you’ll find that companies specialising in SUVs, or particularly dependent on them, also performed well above the market average.
Leading the charge was Jeep with 2937 deliveries, up 43.4 per cent and climbing into Australia’s top 10 brands list for the first time. Likewise Land Rover (including Range Rover) grew 44.1 percent, double its annual growth figure, to 889 units.
Individually, some of the strongest-performing models in terms of percentage over 2013 included the Nissan Juke (up more than 500 per cent); Volkswagen Tiguan (up 42.9 per cent); Mitsubishi Outlander (up 110.8 per cent); Honda CR-V (up 31.1 per cent); Holden Colorado 7 (up 90.3 per cent); Nissan Pathfinder (up 120.6 per cent) and Land Rover Discovery (up 96.9 per cent).
New models not on offer this time in 2013 also made a big impact. We’re talking SUVs such as the Mercedes-Benz GLA (136, second in segment); Jeep Cherokee (591); BMW X4 (99); Porsche Macan (117) and Isuzu MU-X (386).
September, then, was a shining example of the increasing prominence of what are classified as SUVs. Irrespective of how lines between passenger hatchbacks and crossovers are blurring, high-riding options were clearly the MPV of last month.