Another grim month as economic headwinds bite, new vehicle sales decline by 7.4 per cent
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Claimed new vehicle sales continued their downward trajectory in Australia over January, with the market down 7.4 per cent over the same month in 2018, to 88,851 units.

This follows the trend from last year, when new vehicle sales went backwards for the first time in a few years after a strong start, and in which 10 of 12 months showed negative growth.

Every State and Territory aside from the Northern Territory was in the negative, though the population centres of NSW and Victoria performed worse than the overall average, down 8.1 per cent each.

It sounds cliched at this point, but the struggling housing market is closely tied to car sales. As are factors like middling buyer confidence, the imminent federal election, financial sector reform and the continued issues with 'cyber' cars.

“The current economic environment is a challenging one, with an imminent federal election, a declining real estate market and tighter lending practices," said FCAI CEO Tony Weber.

Of course, not all car brands battled. Some, including market leader Toyota, plus Mitsubishi, Kia, Lexus, MG, Volvo and Skoda all moved in a positive direction. As has become de rigeur, the Toyota HiLux was the number-one model by sales.

According to the industry-provided VFACTS sales data, SUVs accounted for 43.8 per cent market share, ahead of passenger cars (34.2 per cent) and light commercials (19.3 per cent).

Interestingly, sales to government departments and rental companies shot up (the latter probably benefiting from keen MY18-plate deals), but sales to private buyers and business fleet buyers plummeted by 12 per cent and 9 per cent respectively.

Take January with a grain of salt, since a number of brands are moving ‘demonstrator’ stock as part of industry-wide plate-clearance sales, and often they were originally included in December figures (or earlier). One month does not maketh a trend…

The five biggest vehicle segments by market share were Medium SUVs (18.8 per cent), Small Cars (18.1 per cent), 4x4 Utes (14.5 per cent), Small SUVs (12.7 per cent) and Large SUVs (11 per cent).


Brands

Toyota bucked the trend and grew 4.3 per cent, upping its market share to an impressive 19.5 per cent thanks in large part to good Camry growth. One-in-five of all vehicles sold last month had a Toyota badge.

Silver medallist Mazda dipped despite good months from the 3 and CX-5, albeit a smaller dip than the market average, while value-leader Mitsubishi finished third, selling 6669 units to private and fleet buyers and growing almost 27 per cent.

Hyundai fell about 13 per cent to fourth, down in large part to counter-intuitive declines in the Kona and Tucson SUVs, ahead of its stablemate Kia in fifth (up 2.6 per cent, impressive in context).

Ford and Holden finished sixth and seventh, but fell away by 21.7 and 27.1 per cent respectively. Ford's top-selling Ranger had a down month, while Holden lost ground on most key models aside from Astra and Colorado.

Honda declined by about 12 per cent, though it edged out Nissan which fared even worse, dipping 19.2 per cent as its core range all fell and yielding market share of only 4.6 per cent.

Volkswagen dipped 9.1 per cent, which is hardly surprising given its Golf and Tiguan staples went backwards, while Subaru dropped more than 19 per cent as both the Impreza and its XV spinoff struggled.

Luxury buyers are showing signs, like last year, they're either holding onto their old cars longer or buying mainstream products as their property portfolio declines. Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi fell 27 per cent, 2.4 per cent and 18.7 per cent apiece.

Notably if you remove vans and utes from the equation, BMW outsold Mercedes-Benz. It's been a long time since that happened.

Lexus and Volvo, on the other hand, defied the trend and grew by 15.8 per cent and 12.8 per cent respectively. Ditto Jaguar (up 53.5 per cent) and Skoda (up 23.6 per cent).

Renault (-19.9 per cent), Land Rover (-51.8 per cent), Jeep (-32.6 per cent), LDV (-33.6 per cent), Peugeot (-29.8 per cent) and Porsche (-66.5 per cent) all had shockers.

One of the market's great success stories for January was China's MG, up tenfold to 503 units and beating out a host of better-known brands, as the table below shows.

Brand Jan 2019 salesChange over Jan 2018
Toyota15,9614.3%
Mazda9490-6.2%
Mitsubishi666926.7%
Hyundai6205-12.9%
Kia46512.6%
Ford4421-21.7%
Holden4167-27.1%
Honda4042-11.8%
Nissan3803-19.2%
Volkswagen3617-9.1%
Subaru 3440-19.1%
Mercedes-Benz2438-27%
BMW2060-2.4%
Suzuki1428-5.2%
Isuzu Ute1340-12.2%
Audi1283-18.7%
Lexus70515.8%
Renault594-19.9%
MG503849%
Land Rover 458-51.8%
Volvo Car43112.8%
Skoda40823.6%
Jeep375-32.6%
Mini3281.9%
LDV233-33.6%


Models

The top 10 contained four utes (Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton and Holden Colorado), three passenger cars (Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai i30) and three SUVs (Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi ASX and the runout Toyota RAV4).

Leaders by market share (in brackets) in the key vehicle segments look like this:

Passenger

Top 5 passenger brands by share were Toyota (17 per cent), Mazda (14.3), Hyundai (12.2), Kia (11.3) and Volkswagen (7.1)

  • Micro: Kia Picanto (80.6), Fiat 500 (14.2) and Mitsubishi Mirage (5.2)
  • Light: Hyundai Accent (17.8), Toyota Yaris (15.6) and Mazda 2 (14.9)
  • Small: Mazda 3 (20.5), Toyota Corolla (17.5) and Hyundai i30 (13.7)
  • Premium Small: Mercedes A-Class (39.5), Audi A3 (32.7) and BMW 1 Series (18.8)
  • Medium: Toyota Camry (60.9), Mazda 6 (13.4) and Subaru Liberty (5.5)
  • Premium Medium: Mercedes C-Class (45.8), BMW 3 Series (12.4) and Mercedes CLA (104)
  • Large: Holden Commodore (68.4), Kia Stinger (22.1) and Skoda Superb (9.5)
  • Premium Large: BMW 5 Series (49), Mercedes E-Class (29.7) and Mercedes CLS (7.7)
  • People movers: Kia Carnival (58.8), Honda Odyssey (14.1) and Toyota Tarago (6.1)
  • Sports < $80k: Ford Mustang (49.5), BMW 2 Series (15.4) and Toyota 86 (8.8)
  • Sports < $200k: Mercedes C-Class (32.4), BMW 4 Series (27.3) and Mercedes E-Class (12)
  • Sports > $200k: Porsche 911 (33.9), Ferrari range (21.7) and Bentley Continental (8.7)

SUV

Top 5 SUV brands by share were Toyota (16.8 per cent), Mitsubishi (12.4), Mazda (12.3), Nissan (7.5) and Subaru (7.3)

  • Small: Mitsubishi ASX (19.6), Mazda CX-3 (14.1) and Honda HR-V (11.3)
  • Premium Small: BMW X1 (16.9), Volvo XC40 (15) and Mercedes GLA (13.9)
  • Medium: Mazda CX-5 (17.4), Toyota RAV4 (13.4) and Nissan X-Trail (11.3)
  • Premium Medium: BMW X3 (23.3), Audi Q5 (18.5) and Lexus NX (13.9)
  • Large: Toyota Prado (16.9), Toyota Kluger (11.8) and Hyundai Santa Fe (7.2)
  • Premium Large: BMW X5 (25), Lexus RX (14.8) and Range Rover Sport (14.5)
  • Upper Large < $100k: Toyota LandCruiser (92.1) and Nissan Patrol (7.9)
  • Upper Large > $100k: Mercedes GLS (31.6), Range Rover (25.3) and Lexus LX (18.4)

Light Commercials

Top 5 LCV brands by share were Toyota (32.6 per cent), Ford (17), Mitsubishi (10.7), Holden (9.8) and Nissan (6.9)

  • Small Vans: Volkswagen Caddy (62.4), Renault Kangoo (31.5) and Citroen Berlingo (4.7)
  • Medium Vans: Toyota HiAce (34.5), Hyundai iLoad (25) and Renault Trafic (12.8)
  • 4x2 Utes: Toyota HiLux (39.3), Mazda BT-50 (14.4) and Ford Ranger (13.2)
  • 4x4 Utes: Toyota HiLux (25.3), Ford Ranger (18.9) and Mitsubishi Triton (13)
ModelJan 2019 sales Change over Jan 2018
Toyota HiLux39512.4%
Mazda 3 2831-11.6%
Ford Ranger2564-21.3%
Toyota Corolla2417-12.9%
Mazda CX-523479.1%
Hyundai i3018912.2%
Mitsubishi ASX1818108.5%
Toyota RAV418001.1%
Mitsubishi Triton169710.7%
Holden Colorado 154411.1%

Any questions? Ask us in the comments and we'll answer when we have time.