A rough start to the year

Holden sales fell by a drastic 29 per cent in March compared to the same month last year, rounding out an extremely disappointing quarter-one (Q1) in 2018.

GM’s local subsidiary, now in its first calendar year as a full-range importer rather than local manufacturer, has seen sales tumble 23 per cent over the Q1 period.

Holden’s reduced national dealer network is clearly battling to keep volume at a feasible level, just six months after it shuttered the Adelaide factory.

To give this some context, Holden finished in 10th spot on the charts in March, just a nose ahead of Kia. It’s the brand’s lowest finish since 1948. For Q1 Holden sits 7th.

The result for March also meant Holden’s market share was a paltry 4.8 percent, while its Q1 share was 5.3 per cent.

This put the Lion brand behind Volkswagen, Honda, Nissan, Ford, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Mazda and Toyota. Mazda almost doubled Holden’s volume.

Holden’s total Q1 sales are 15,524. This time last year its cumulative annual tally was 20,119. The year before that it was 22,519. 10 years ago, in 2008, Holden’s Q1 figure was 33,850.

Holden’s sales leader is the Colorado, on 3916 units, down 16 per cent in a market segment that’s actually growing well above the overall market average.

One bright spot is the Astra, capitalising on greatly reduced prices to yield 2727 sales, up 78 per cent. However, its market share is less than one-third of the Toyota Corolla’s and Mazda 3’s.

Holden has also sold 2598 Commodores (down 54 per cent), though many of these are runout VF IIs made in Australia rather than the vital new ZB model imported from Europe.

Figures show that Holden has sold 1972 vehicles this year that were made in Australia. We know that 253 of these are Utes and Caprices, meaning about 1700 are locally made Commodores, two-thirds of the Commodore total.

It’s sold 1661 Captivas (down by 43 per cent) and 1420 Traxs (down 34 per cent) despite the SUV boom. The new Equinox, which competes in the market’s most important segment, has managed a mere 1075 sales. By comparison Mazda has sold 6604 CX-5s and Nissan 5794 X-Trails.

Making up the numbers over Q1 are the Barina (926, up 37 per cent, but low in margins), Trailblazer (632, down 16 per cent) and Spark (313, up 13 per cent).

While staying diplomatic, Holden’s communications director, Anna Betts, admitted the results were disappointing.

“We anticipated a slower start to the year but it’s always our aim to sell more vehicles and our current market share is obviously not where we want it to be,” she said.

“Nevertheless this is a period of considerable transformation for us as a business and a brand. This past quarter – our first since the end of local manufacturing – has included establishing a completely brand new nameplate in Equinox, and re-launching an Australian icon in the all-new Commodore.

"From Trax to Trailblazer, we now have almost the entire SUV market covered… When [seven-seat] Acadia joins our showrooms later this year, we’ll have an even stronger product line-up.

“We remain passionate about Holden’s future and confident our sales results will improve.”


Q1, 2018 sales:

BrandSales Share %Change %
Toyota52,46518+8.1
Mazda29,74910.2-2.3
Hyundai 23,5688.1+5.2
Mitsubishi 21,2157.3+15.2
Ford18,3916.3-0.2
Nissan15,7615.4+4.7
Holden15,5245.3-22.8
Honda15,1295.2+54.8
Kia14,2794.9+10.9
Volkswagen13,7874.7+0.4

March, 2018 sales:

BrandMarch ‘18 salesMarch ‘17 sales
Toyota18,87819,652
Mazda972310,472
Mitsubishi88107619
Hyundai84438700
Ford66876852
Nissan61915620
Honda55863106
Subaru51955006
Holden51167211
Volkswagen51375122
Kia50844684
Mercedes-Benz37863945
Isuzu Ute25802074
BMW22292220
Suzuki19131792

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