Background. At the end of May, VFACTS data provided by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries recorded 465,381 sales over the first five months, down 0.9 per cent on last year's all-time record.
The most interesting development is that vehicles classified as SUVs have overtaken passenger vehicles, with respective market shares year-to-date (YTD) of 39.1 per cent versus 38.6 per cent. Light commercial vehicles like utes and vans make up 19.5 per cent, and are growing.
We've already written about Kia's growth this year. It has leapt into the top-ten on the back of a strong product line, growing brand awareness and the industry's longest warranty.
The Korean brand is up 36.5 per cent this year to 21,998 units, which puts it ahead of Subaru and Honda and just behind Volkswagen. It's also now at around 60 per cent of sister brand Hyundai's volume.
Driving this is the Cerato small car (7879 sales, up 76 per cent), Sportage medium SUV (5592, up 35 per cent), Picanto city car (1203, up 500 per cent) and Sorento (2028, up 27 per cent).
Honda has been bumped down the order this year by Kia, but it's still going rather well, up 14 per cent to 16,419 units and primed to take off now that the brand new Civic hatch is here, and the new CR-V just around the corner.
No surprise is the fact that Civic has driven the growth, with 4786 sales here (almost all being the new sedan, given the higher-potential hatch's delayed launch), up a lazy 800 per cent.
Unfortunately this is the only good news for Honda for now. The HR-V (4761), CR-V (2528) and Jazz (2895) are all down, by between 6 per cent and 19 per cent. Ditto the Accord and Odyssey.
Subaru is up about 10 per cent this year to 20,761 units, on track for its record. It's the top-selling brand here with an independent distributor.
Most of the growth is coming from the all-new Impreza, with 5161 sales so far representing a 130 per cent hike on the figures managed over the same point last year by the old car, thanks to its improved cabin, better value and cheaper servicing costs.
The new Levorg has also added 479 sales, and the massively popular Outback has 5054 sales to be up 6 per cent - offsetting drops in the soon-to-be-replaced XV (2432, down 28 per cent), Forester (5412, down 7.5 per cent) and Liberty (965, down 32 per cent).
Australia's dominant player is only up 5.3 per cent YTD, to 84,480 units, so why is it included? Well, this growth equates to 4219 extra sales, more than any other car brand. The higher your volume, the harder it is to grow big on percentage terms.
Toyota has actually expanded its market share to 18.2 per cent from 17.1 per cent. The big grower has been 1721 incremental sales from the new C-HR crossover, but the discounted Camry is doing well in its final year of Australian production - up 24 per cent to 8507.
Also strong are the Toyota HiLux 4x4 (13,202, up 9 per cent and still Australia's top-selling vehicle), RAV4 (8351, up 9 per cent), and LandCruiser 70/200 Series wagons (5196, up 16 per cent).The LandCruiser utes and the Prado are also up strongly, countering a 3 per cent drop-off for the Corolla.
Similar to Toyota, Mercedes-Benz's proportional sales aren't up much - 3.9 per cent, to 17,398 units. However, its growth has come at a time where far smaller-volume rivals such as BMW (10,213, down 18 per cent), Audi (8549, down 13.5 per cent) and Lexus (3711, down 2 per cent) have struggled.
Strip away Benz's commercial range and just focus on passenger vars and SUVs, and the resultant 15,466 units is up 4 per cent.
Winners are the evergreen C-Class sedan and wagon (3449, up 32 per cent), C-Class coupe and convertible (new model up 17- per cent), new E-Class sedan (876, up 136 per cent), GLS (432, up 142 per cent) and GLE Coupe (479 incremental).
Honourable mentions: Infiniti (347, up 17 per cent), Jaguar (1209, up 16 per cent), LDV (799, up 28 per cent), Maserati (336, up 46 per cent), McLaren (51, up 143 per cent) and RAM (134, up 29 per cent).
Australia's third most popular car-maker has dropped 11 per cent this year, and shed more sales than any other brand in gross terms (negative 4842, to 37,568).
That'll happen when you launch a brand-new version of the i30, and lose a ton of sales in the lead-up. Ergo the i30 has fallen from 16,425 last year to 11,066 this year, though that'll change.
Also down are the Sonata (by 442 units), Accent (-237), Genesis (-131) and iMax (-59), offsetting good growth for the Tucson, Santa Fe and iLoad. But Hyundai has a mountain of new metal in the pipe, so expect a bounce in 2018.
With 32,840 units, Holden has fallen 10 per cent this year - its final year of Australian production before it becomes a full importer - and even lost to Ford last month.
Axing the Cruze (386 sales this year compared to 4621 sales last year at the same point) doesn't help - especially given the Astra's 3155 sales don't equal it. Also hurting are the Commodore (8889, down 14 per cent, which you think will continue for the German import replacement).
The Barina, Holden ute, axed Malibu and Holden Ute have also fallen, with the solo bright light being the much improved Holden Colorado 4x4 update (7423, up 22 per cent).
Things just keep getting worse for Jeep, which is down another 43 per cent this year to 3303 units (Land Rover has more than 5000). This is counter-intuitive when you consider how big the SUV boom remains.
The just-updated Grand Cherokee is down 34 per cent to 2069, the Cherokee has 500 sales to be down 37 per cent, the Wrangler is down 27 per cent to 401 and the Renegade has fallen 23 per cent to 328.
Here's hoping FCA Australia's improved warranty program and the all-new Compass that's due soon help right the ship.
Nissan is struggling, down 13 per cent to 23,490 units, keeping it just ahead of VW and Kia. It was once a much more dominant player than its current market share YTD of 5 per cent.
Much of this is easily explained by killing Pulsar, losing 1910 sales. Ditto the Micra, shedding a further 727 that it picked up last year. But drops in Navara 4x4 (5439, down 8 per cent), Juke (668, down 30 per cent) and Altima (axed), and a small blip for the Qashqai, don't help.
This is despite its top-seller, the Nissan X-Trail, riding the medium SUV wave to growth - 7761 units, up 3 per cent.
While Mercedes-Benz holds steady, BMW and Audi are battling. BMW is battling more, with 10,213 sales representing a drop of 18 per cent over a very strong 2016 performance.
The biggest battler is the 3 Series sedan and wagon range (1120, down 43 per cent), alongside the X5 (down 21 per cent), X3 (down 16 per cent), X1 (down 14 per cent), 1 Series (down 21 per cent) and 2 Series Active Tourer (down 44 per cent).
The only bright spot is the new 5 Series, up 200 per cent to 688 units. Small victories.
Honourable mentions: Volkswagen (22,682, down 5 per cent), Peugeot (902, down 45 per cent), Citroen (243, down 42 per cent), Audi (8549, down 14 per cent), Land Rover (5204, down 13 per cent) and Volvo Car (1840, down 23 per cent).