February saw the Australian passenger vehicle market continue its growth trend with February showcasing further industry growth, especially in the small SUV market that climbed 21.4 precent compared to February 2017.
While the numbers softened a little compared to January, the overall numbers are great news for the industry, according to Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries CEO Tony Weber.
“To have the market already running 6.1 per cent ahead of last year’s record total indicates that consumer confidence is still strong,” Weber said.
As usual this month had its fair share of winners and loser, with the data showing how competitive and fickle, the Australian new vehicle market is.
The smaller of the Japanese brands hit sixth place in February, its best monthly result since January 2009. Leading the charge was the Honda CR-V midsize SUV, which grew sales to 1381, making it the second-best performer in its class after the all-conquering Mazda CX-5. The brand reported a total of 4962 sales, up some 1766 units the same time last year.
This time last year, Toyota was clearing showrooms of the Camry, dramatically skewing the numbers as it reduced the inventory held in its dealer network. Now that there’s no locally built car to skew numbers, it gives free reign to the Corolla to fill the sales gap.
The punchy Japanese brand is bearing down on Mazda’s SUV domination with its ASX, Outlander and Pajero Sport models all consistently placing highly in their classes. The Mitsubishi ASX and its spiritual evolution, the Eclipse Cross, came in at fifth and eighth in the small SUV line-up, outselling the Holden Trax and the Ford EcoSport. Shifting an impressive 644 units in its first full month on sale, the Eclipse Cross’ success helped boost Mitsubishi’s SUV sales (3923) to third place behind Toyota (5309) and Mazda (4460).
A new kid on the block, the Hyundai Kona sold a whopping 910 vehicles, pushing it in front of the Nissan Quashqai, Mitsubishi’s Eclipse Cross and even ahead of the Mitsubishi ASX. The Kona is Hyundai’s first dip into the small-SUV realm, and if the strong start is anything to go by, it’s a definite player amongst the small SUV ranks thus far dominated by the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and Subaru XV.
The brand’s worst sales result since the inception of VFACTS records some 20 years ago suggest a grim indication of shifting Australian preferences. A decade ago, Holden held a whopping 13.8 per cent market share, making it second only to Toyota. In February, Holden’s sales comprised just 4.9 percent of the Australian market, just enough to grab eighth place behind Toyota, Mazda, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, long-term traditional rival Ford, Honda and Nissan.
Holden is caught in a tricky transition period as it launches the first new Holden Commodore in a decade, and bloods its Equinox medium SUV.
Holden spokesman Mark Flintoff said the company is confident things will quickly turn around as both models settle into showrooms.
“We’ve been planning for a slower start to the year in terms of sales, but it’s always our aim to sell more vehicles and our current market share is not where we want it to be,” Flintoft told WhichCar.
The Pony Car craze that took Australia by storm appears to be receding. Down to 492, a slump from the 932 sold in February last year, the performance coupe is still a solid entry in the Ford line-up but just isn’t capturing hearts like it used to, possibly as buyers wait for the facelifted version to arrive. The Mustang, however, remains the only standalone sports chassis to sell more than 200 units in a month, proving it’s still a popular seller.