It was another record year for the Australian new-car market in 2016, though there was another notable feat as Australian-built cars were outsold by German vehicles for the first time.
Locally made models slipped 11-percent to 87,096 sales last year, allowing German-built cars to move ahead despite a total of 87,392 sales falling a few-hundred units short of 2015 numbers (87,894).
Ford Australia inevitably posted the biggest decline – minus 23 per cent compared with 2015 – as production of the Ford Falcon sedan (down 25-percent) and Territory SUV (down 22-percent) came to an end in October.
The Holden Cruze – down 15 per cent year on year – also ceased rolling off assembly lines in Elizabeth, Adelaide, at the same time. Sales of the Commodore large car, which will be replaced by a European-sourced Opel model in 2018, dropped seven-percent, though the model still finished in the top 10 best-selling models for 2016.
Toyota was again the dominant brand in Australia last year, once again surpassing 200,000 annual sales, yet there were still negative results for the Camry and Aurion twins – declines of four- and 11-percent, respectively.
A decade ago, Australian-made cars outsold German vehicles by 201,623 to 32,829 units, and even five years ago they were almost double: 141,939 v 75,901.
In recent years, locally built cars have also been surpassed by vehicles manufactured in South Korea and Thailand.
Holden is the only member of the local trio that will be disappointed with 2016’s sales results, though.
The company dropped to fourth overall in the best-selling brands table after sales slipped eight per cent.
In contrast, Toyota’s position as the nation’s favourite car brand remains seemingly impregnable, while Ford increased its market share from 6.1- to 6.9-percent after selling more than 10,000 additional vehicles in 2016 compared with 2015 (81,207 v 70,454).
Thailand’s rise in the market’s Vehicle of Origin table can be largely attributed to the ever-increasing popularity of utes, which are built in the Asian country in significant numbers.
In a year that the Toyota HiLux became the first ute to claim the title of Australia’s best-selling vehicle – see separate story – ute sales overall improved nine-percent, to close in on the 200,000 mark (190,768).
Every SUV segment posted growth, with small SUVs and large SUVs rising by a small margin of two per cent but medium-sized SUVs and upper-large SUVs jumping more notably – by 16.5- and 27-percent, respectively.
People-movers (up eight-percent) and sports cars (up 20-percent) were the only passenger-car segments to record positive results in 2016.
The small-car segment contracted only slightly, by four-percent, and still maintains a healthy advantage over the next-best segment, mid-sized SUVs: 224,450 v 172,194.
An extra 12,817 4x4 utes were shifted in 2016 as they overtook large SUVs to become the third most popular vehicle segment in Australia.