A slight increase in vehicle sales in March failed to arrest a downward trend that has seen exactly 23,000 fewer sales during the first quarter of the year compared to the same period in 2018.
VFACTs figures released today show March 2019 recorded 99,442 vehicle sales, up from 87,102 in February, but was still 7.1 percent down on March last year, taking the quarterly year-to-date deficit to 7.8 percent.
Read VFACTS: Toyota Hilux more popular than entire Holden line-up
Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) CEO Tony Weber again put the drop in vehicle sales to Australia’s overall economic environment, which has seen wage growth flat line and house prices continue to slide.
“We are seeing a cautious consumer approach at the moment, and this is not surprising given the number of economic headwinds in the Australian market,” Weber said.
The slowing economy has impacted most manufacturers with even Toyota sales down 2847 compared to the first three months of 2018.
It was worse for Holden, which had another poor month and slid to 10th position overall.
Holden sold just 11,825 vehicles in the first three months of the year - down from 15,524 last year - to see its market share drop from 5.3 to 4.4 percent, putting it behind Kia, Nissan, Volkswagen and Honda.
SUV strategy success
It was a very different story for Mitsubishi, which experienced its best ever March sales figures to outsell Mazda as Australia’s second-biggest selling brand with 10,135 sales over the month; 15 percent up from its performance in March 2018.
Champagne corks would have also been popping at the company’s Aussie headquarters celebrating the fact it sold more SUVs in March than any other brand, with ASX again being the biggest-selling small SUV.
All this has helped the Japanese brand’s market share increase by 2.1 percent to 9.4 percent during the past 12 months, making it just one of the two top-10 brands to be in positive growth territory. The Triton ute range, ASX, and Outlander medium SUV all feature strongly in the list of top-10 highest-selling individual models.
Mitsubishi Motors Australia CEO John Signorello put much of the brand’s defiance of the economic downturn to its focus on selling utes and SUVs.
“(Mitsubishi) is fortunate to have such a strong dealer network and a very competitive SUV and LCV (light commercial vehicle) range which has helped us build the brand over the past four years to achieve such a strong result,” said Signorello.
“SUVs consistently outsell passenger cars in Australia and while some are starting to see the opportunity, Mitsubishi Motors has been focused on delivering exceptional SUVs designed and engineered to meet the needs of our customers.”
Kia was the only other top-10 brand to record positive sales growth, with its quarterly market share up from 4.9 to 5.4 percent from 2018 with its 14,819 sales seeing it comfortably in sixth position ahead of Nissan (12,841).
Of the top 10 models, the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton utes again made up the top 3, with the Mazda 3 in run out mode again beating the Toyota Corolla whose sales are down 22.3 percent compared to the previous generation year on year.
Hyundai i30 sales have also dropped by 11.7 percent taking it down to seventh spot.
Top 10 brands March 2019/Year to Date
- Toyota 17,298/49,618
- Mitsubishi 10,135/25,299
- Mazda 9618/28,343
- Hyundai 7731/20,365
- Ford 6160/16,259
- Kia 5303/14,810
- Nissan 5115/12,841
- Volkswagen 4682/12,366
- Honda 4335/12,242
- Holden 3833/11,825
Top 10 models March 2019/Year to Date
- Toyota Hilux 4527/12,909
- Ford Ranger 3721/9662
- Mitsubishi Triton 2666/7518
- Mazda 3 2642/8128
- Toyota Corolla 2499/6986
- Mazda CX-5 2414/7118
- Hyundai i30 2402/6222
- Toyota Landcruiser* 2307/5557
- Mitsubishi ASX 2236/6176
- Mitsubishi Outlander 20674905
*Includes Landcruiser 200 and 70 Series