Australians are buying more luxury cars and SUVs than ever before, but deliveries on vehicles classified as ‘sports cars’ continue to fall from their 2013 peak as demand for top-sellers such as the Toyota 86 and Hyundai Veloster slows.
January 2015 sales figures show a decline of 22.6 per cent in sports car sales for the month to 1519 units against the backdrop of a market-wide decline (inclusive of all passenger, SUV and commercial segments) of 0.2 per cent to 82,116 units.
The dominant sub-$80K class fell 25.8 per cent to 975 units over the same month in 2014, which in turn was down 14.6 per cent over 2013 in which 1538 models were delivered.
As you might expect, we saw record deliveries of ‘affordable’ (sub-$80K) sports cars in 2013, with a full-year figure of 19,470 units (up 23 per cent over 2012, which was in turn up a staggering 91.6 per cent over 2011) due to the 86 and Veloster, which for a few years took the market by storm.
But last month, sales of the Hyundai and Toyota fell 29.5 per cent to 222 (315 in January 2014) and 48 per cent to 233 units (448 in January 2014) respectively. It continues a trend, given the Hyundai dropped 13.3 per cent to 3405 and the Toyota fell 36.5 per cent to 4257 across 2014.
At its peak in 2013, the Toyota 86 found 6706 homes throughout the year, making Australia one of the world’s major markets for the vehicle. The year before, in 2012, the Hyundai Veloster (which was eclipsed by the Toyota once that car launched in June of that year) found 4107 homes.
It shouldn’t be too surprising, given sports cars typically tail away as they age: people who want one tend to buy one early in the life cycle. But these two heavy hitters were not alone in struggling last month.
The Kia Cerato Koup (down 71 per cent to 31 units) was the biggest loser, though small-volume staples such as the Mazda MX-5 (down from 12 units to four), Nissan 370Z (down from 33 to 27), Subaru BRZ (down from 101 to 90) and Volkswagen Golf Cabrio (down from 33 to 21) all fell in January this year compared to the same month in 2014.
The axing of the Volkswagen Eos (zero sales last month, 49 last January) also took effect.
The drop in segment sales from 1314 to 975 also came in spite of new models adding decent volume such as the new Audi A3 convertible (98 units, up from zero last year when it was classified differently) and the BMW 2 Series coupe (81 sales, ahead of the 1 Series’ hail of 57 last January). The Kia Pro_Cee'd also added 35 incremental sales.
It’s not just at the lower end of the sports car pricing spectrum where we saw drops in sales during January 2015.
The part of the market that includes sporty vehicles (coupes and cabriolets) priced between $80K and $200k dropped in volume by 20.9 per cent to 416 units.
And this time the car at the top was not to blame, given the BMW 4 Series’ 150-unit haul compared to 151 units in January 2014 — just months after its launch — though last year also included 25 runout 3 Series two-door deliveries.
Mercedes-Benz had a rare dry run. The C-Class coupe dropped from 94 units to 48, the E-Class two-door fell from 76 to 41, and the SLK dropped from 29 to 14. In addition, the Audi A5 coupe and cabriolet fell from 55 to 48, and the TT from 20 to zero (the new model launching this week).
Staples such as the Porsche Boxster (17 to 18) and Cayman (22 to 21) were steady, while additional volume came from the Lexus RC (34 units) and Infiniti Q60 (five units, at the expense of seven G Coupe and Cabrio deliveries last year).
The Nissan GT-R grew from one to four last month, and the Jaguar F-Type grew from six to 17 thanks largely to the coupe. You’ll see some good growth in February with the arrival of the new TT and the Alfa Romeo 4C.
Perversely, sales of sports cars price above $200K grew 4.1 per cent to 128 units (up from 123).
The leading Porsche 911 dropped from 49 sales in January 2014 to 41 this year, but the shortfall was addressed by the BMW 6 Series (up from 16 to 18), new BMW i8 (six incremental units), Ferrari’s range (up from 10 to 16), the Maserati Gran Turismo and Gran Cabrio (three to 11) and Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe (four incremental units).