Passenger car woes, luxury market cools, China on the march, and hybrid cars getting results.

Every month our breakdown of the self-reported VFACTS car industry sales data yields huge interest. Here’s a look at five interesting developments that have taken place over the course of 2018.

Passenger car struggles

The overall market is down 0.2 per cent this year after a record-setting 2017, but it's passenger cars that are really battling.

This umbrella for hatchbacks, sedans, coupes, convertibles and people-mover vans has reduced by 12.5 per cent, while SUVs have grown 9.1 per cent. The market share respectively is 33.7 per cent for passenger cars and 42.7 per cent for SUVs.

Every passenger segment bar micro cars (a niche with market share of 0.7 per cent, dominated by the Kia Picanto) has fallen this year.

The percentage drop by segment is listed in brackets: Light cars (7.6 per cent), small cars (4.4 per cent), medium cars (25.2 per cent), large cars (46.1 per cent), upper large cars (16.4 per cent), people movers (2.9 per cent) and sports cars (34.6 per cent).

Luxury market cooling

The premium end of the car market is quite contingent on model cycles, but nevertheless an overall slide from luxury brands this year is evident.

Consider Mercedes-Benz Cars (down 7 per cent to 20,418), BMW (down 2.7 per cent to 14,592), Audi (down 6.6 per cent to 11,976), Land Rover (down 10.7 per cent to 6625), Lexus (down 0.4 per cent to 5440), Porsche (down 17.8 per cent to 2528), Jaguar (down 15.1 per cent to 1424), Maserati (down 7 per cent to 439) and Infiniti (down 25.2 per cent to 350).

Going against the grain are Volvo Car (3554, up 27.2 per cent thanks to the new XC60/XC40 SUVs) and Alfa Romeo (up 27.5 per cent to 756, thanks to the Stelvio SUV).

China on the up

Sales of vehicles made in China have almost doubled this year, up 93.9 per cent to 5299 units.

Leading the charge is the SAIC group, with two if its brands (oddly distributed through different channels) growing at a rate of knots, albeit from a low base.

Top of the pops is LDV with 3348 sales, up 155.6 per cent. The driving force has been its well-received T60 ute, which has managed 1571 sales, ahead of the G10 van (810). Fellow SAIC company MG is up 236.6 per cent to 1252 units, led by the ZS SUV with a respectable 789 sales.

Great Wall’s Steed ute has also grown 52.7 per cent to 391 units, though sister brand Haval has dipped 24.4 per cent to 307 units.

Private down, business/rental up

Sales of vehicles to private buyers are down 4.6 per cent to 320,529 units, and government department vehicle sales have dipped 4.1 per cent to 22,194.

However, business sales (be they small-business operators or big fleets) are up 2.4 per cent to 284,923 units, and rental car sales have grown 15 per cent to 40,314.

Hybrids are slowly growing

It’s been a long road, but hybrid cars are growing in acceptance, thanks overwhelmingly to market leader Toyota. About 40 per cent of Camry sales this year and petrol-electric, while the new Corolla hybrid range is expected to account for one-in-five range sales.

In the passenger space, hybrid car sales have grown nearly 10 per cent to 6599 units (compared to 8874 diesels, down 24 per cent). Hybrid SUV sales have also grown about 24 per cent.