Korea’s second-biggest brand after (parent company) Hyundai usually occupies 9th spot in the monthly top 10 brands table, but another monthly 36% increase saw Kia jump into 7th position with 4120 sales – more than a 1000 units higher than April 2016. The Carnival people-mover (+32%) and Sorento and Sportage SUVS (+50% and +38%) all contributed, though a special mention must go to the Cerato. A year-on-year increase of 41% - to 1490 sales – propelled the small car into the top 10 best-selling vehicles for April.
WINNERS: SUBARU AND MITSUBISHI
Subaru’s enduring popularity in Australia is showing no signs of faltering. A sales figure of 3854 in April gave it 22% year-on-year growth – boosting its year-to-date growth to 11%. The Impreza was the star, up 177% for the month, with strong support from the WRX sports car spin-off (+46%), the BRZ sports coupe (+88%), and Outback (+11%). The Forester SUV was also consistent, if down 3%. Subaru Australia will be further encouraged by the fact its popular XV compact SUV is due mid-year in second-generation form.
Mitsubishi is another Japanese brand faring well in 2017, and it recorded 31% growth last month compared with April 2016. Its major players were all SUVs: Outlander (+125%), Pajero Sport (+106%) and ASX (+58%).
In isolation, Mercedes’ stagnant April result – just 0.3% up on the same month last year – doesn’t seem impressive. Yet in the context of an April in which many luxury brands suffered notable declines, it’s a strong performance – very strong when you consider Benz’s total of 3312 units, even allowing for the benefit of commercial vehicles, outsold the combined total of Audi and BMW sales (3193). Infiniti, Lexus and Volvo were other luxury marques posting negative results for April.
WINNER: MAZDA SUVs
Mazda sold 4000 of its CX-badged SUVs in April – accounting for almost half its 8630 total for the month (an April record for the Japanese brand). The baby CX-3 actually slid backwards by 26% (but retains segment leadership for 2017), but the newly released second-generation CX-5 surpassed 2000 units (2166) and the still-fresh CX-9 seven-seater’s 639 sales equates to a 914% year-on-year increase over its predecessor.
Light-commercial vehicles proved to be the only segment impervious to April’s 5% decline, with the ute-biased class posting 3% growth while passenger cars (-12%) and SUVs (-1%) both fell. The Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger were the champs, the only models to surpass 3000 units for the month - with the former increasing its overall lead for 2017’s best-seller status. The Ranger, though, again beat its rival in the bigger 4x4 segment.
LOSERS: FRENCH BRANDS
A sacré bleu month for Citroen, Peugeot and Renault – if more against form for the latter. Renault had been tracking positively so far for 2017 but a 32% year-on-year stumble for April has turned 10% growth in March into a 2% deficit at the third-way stage of the year. Citroen’s 38% drop for April is consistent for its year-to-date decline (-41%), while Peugeot’s huge 63% fall last month has increased its decline compared to this time last year to 47%.
LOSERS: 4x4 SPECIALISTS
America’s Jeep and Britain’s Land Rover both struggled in April, posting sales drops of 37% and 40% respectively. Grand Cherokee (-30%) and Wrangler (-41%) were the key offenders for Jeep, which will be looking forward to the crucial, new mid-sized Compass due at the end of the year. Land Rover is hindered slightly by buyers waiting for the new-generation Discovery due mid-year, though no such excuses for the Range Rover (-34%), Evoque (-17%) and Range Rover Sport (-51%).
LOSER: HOLDEN COMMODORE
The large car that was once Australia’s favourite car for 15 consecutive years suffered the ignominy of dropping out of the top 10 best-selling models for April. A 25% year-on-year drop did the damage, dropping sales from April 2016’s 1908 to last month’s 1441. It wasn’t even Holden’s most popular vehicle. The Colorado ute took that mantle – and a place in the top 10 – with 1824 sales.
LOSERS: CITY CARS
The micro-car and light-car segments both took sizeable hits again last month – dropping 30% and 22% respectively. The result for lights cars mirrored their year-to-date performance (-21%) but was slightly out of the norm for micro cars, which are now down 7% overall. Of all the models in both classes, only the Kia Rio and Skoda Fabia could point to notable growth.
The Japanese giant didn’t fare much better than its alliance partner Renault. With key models including the Juke, Pathfinder, Patrol, Qashqai and X-Trail all underperforming, Nissan posted a 17% sales decrease for April. Its 3350 units for the month dropped it to last place in the Top 10 Brands table – outsold by Volkswagen and Subaru, and only 38 units from being out of the chart completely (Mercedes sold 3312 vehicles). Year-to-date sales are down 14%, dropping seventh-placed Nissan’s market share from 5.7% to 5.1%.