It was generally business as usual for the Australian new vehicle market in July. The Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3 ruled the roost, SUVs continued to boom and a trio of utes led by the Toyota HiLux filled out the top 10.
But of course, every month brings its share of surprises, like this one we told you about already. Here is a list of another seven interesting things we found when trawling through July’s monthly VFACTS figures — seven things in the year’s seventh month.
Isuzu Ute is now outselling Suzuki
Better known as a maker of trucks, Isuzu Ute wrenched 1536 registrations in July from its tiny two-model line-up, consisting of the D-Max ute (1080) and MU-X off-roader (456). This total is 12.8 per cent higher than the same month in 2014.
By comparison, the much better-known Japanese brand Suzuki, operating here for decades longer than Isuzu and offering seven models, managed 1384 units (still up 6.5 per cent) of which 827 were the evergreen Swift.
Annually, Isuzu Ute has managed 11,763 units (up 27.7 per cent), which puts it ahead of Suzuki on a year-to-date (YTD) basis as well, given the latter brand has managed 11,452 units (up 13.0 per cent in its own right).
Of course, Suzuki launches its vital new Vitara small SUV next month (pictured above), with high expectations, while on the flip side, Isuzu is about to get a fleet of updated or new-generation ute rivals — so this balance may not stay like this for long.
Whither the government and rental sales?
Federal, state and local governments as a whole are buying fewer cars (down 13.4 per cent), SUVs (down 4.6 per cent) and utes/vans (down 3.7 per cent) than they did in July last year.
It’s even more marked in the rental market, with big rental fleets cutting back on passenger cars (down 27.0 per cent), SUVs (down 22.1 per cent) and utes/vans (11.8 per cent) in July this year than the same month in 2014.
Luckily, private and business sales are offsetting this trend sufficiently for the overall market to be in positive territory for the month (up by 2.7 per cent) and YTD (up 3.2 per cent).
Diesel passenger cars still plummeting
Passenger cars across the board are falling (4.7 per cent in July) in the face of the SUV boom (up 13.4 per cent) that is stealing all the thunder. But this trend is even more marked in diesel-powered models.
In July, passenger cars with diesel engines found 26.3 per cent fewer private buyers than July 2014, and 12.9 per cent fewer fleet/business buyers.
This largely reflects YTD figures. Read more on this trend in our analysis from a few months ago here, but safe to say the increased efficiency of petrol engines and the expense of diesel at the bowser and on the dealer lot is taking a toll.
Citroen C4 Picasso outsold by i3, Panamera and Lambo
What is up with all you car buyers out there!? We happen to love the quirky Citroen C4 Picasso — as you can read in our reviews here — but it isn’t getting much traction with buyers.
Perhaps this is best indicated by the fact that its monthly registrations (seven) were exceeded by super-niche, highly priced fare such as the BMW i3 electric car (eight), Porsche Panamera (10) and even the grouped-together Lamborghini range (nine). Sigh… Go buy one, already.
Porsche outsold Peugeot
We don’t mean to pick on PSA and its Australian importer Sime Darby — its cars usually get good marks from us as you can read here and here — but Peugeot’s 312 registrations in July (down from 315 in July 2014) lost out to vastly more upmarket brand Porsche (388, up 39.1 per cent).
We’d vouch that nowhere else except perhaps Monaco buys more Porsches than Peugeots.
Audi and Jeep in a dead heat
The four-ringed brand from Ingolstadt managed to register 1760 units in Australia last month, up 14.7 per cent. This figure actually gave the brand a dead-heat with a car maker going in the opposite direction this year — Jeep.
The American star slipped in sales by 26.4 per cent last month, giving it 1760 units. In July last year, the gulf between Audi and Jeep was 631. This year it was nothing.
WA is dropping the ball
As we mentioned before, the overall market is in pretty rude health in 2015 so far, up 3.2 per cent to 670,735 units. July grew 2.7 per cent over the seventh month of 2014, to 92,308.
The engine room of this was New South Wales (about one third of all national sales, and up 6.1 per cent), Victoria (close behind NSW, and itself up 4.6 per cent) and Queensland (a clear number three, up 5.3 per cent).
The exceptions in July, to a degree, were South Australia (down 4.7 per cent) and the Northern Territory (8.4 per cent). But it was Western Australia — coming down from a resources boom — that accounted for the biggest drop, falling 12.7 per cent.
This is ahead of the annual drop in WA of 9.0 per cent. The only other State or Territory down YTD is SA, which is 1.5 per cent in the red.
Read our full and detailed July VFACTS wrap here.