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Mitsubishi Triton surges into top 10 as passenger cars falter

By Tim Robson, 05 Dec 2018 Car News

Mitsubishi Triton surges into top 10 as passenger cars falter

VFACTS November 2018: Keen deals on runout Mitsubishi Triton utes means strong sales, while forecourts run red with the ink of savaged passenger car sales numbers

Australian new car buyers love a dual cab ute, and while the Toyota Hilux and the Ford Ranger squabble over the number one spot on the sales charts, Mitsubishi’s faithful Triton has snuck up the order on the back of a strong November.

However, the bleeding continues in the passenger car sector, with swathes of downturns across almost every model across all size categories.

The Triton – which is set to be updated in January – has long held third spot in the ute race, but it climbed to outright fourth position for the month of November, beaten only by its two ute rivals and the evergreen Toyota Corolla.

It pushed the Subaru Forester off the bottom of the top 10 listing, which has shed a few hundred sales after its honeymoon launch phase of September.

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The rest of the top ten remains reasonably static, with most models adding a few sales on the back of a slightly stronger November. More than 93,600 cars found new homes last month, compared to 90,000 the month before.

However, it’s a drop year-on-year of more the 7500 cars, even though the 2018 total crashed through the symbolic one million mark.

While consumers, on the whole, hold a pretty positive view of the world, that confidence isn’t reflected across all vehicles categories. Passenger car sales continue to plummet like a stone, with almost every single model on sale recording another negative month.

Key exceptions include the Kia Picanto (which almost doubled its sales from October), the Holden Barina (up 70 per cent month on month despite being discontinued) and the Skoda Fabia (up 75 per cent).

MG’s MG6 Plus also fired well for the Chinese company, posting a 270 per cent lift in its admittedly modest numbers.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class – often used as a barometer of the medium-sized passenger car segment – continues its slide down the charts, though, posting just 183 sales. This time last year, the number was more like 650. Toyota’s Camry still holds a strong lead in passenger car sales (1250 in November), though its fortunes are also on the wane a since it stopped being built here.

The premium sector is holding reasonably steady, with strong sales for BMW’s X4 not quite helping the Bavarians overcome their Ingolstadt rivals at Audi for the month. A strong month for the small Q3 pushed Audi ahead by just 32 units overall. Mercedes-Benz looked to its GLC medium SUV to push it to the front of the German trio.

The bloodletting is no better in the large sedan class, either. The Holden Commodore has rallied slightly, posting a handful more units to punch through 700 units for the first time this year… though a small but indeterminate number of those sales can still be attributed to leftover VF stock. With 1835 cars moved this year, it’s Holden’s best-selling model… which doesn’t say much for the Equinox.

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The medium SUV segment is now the biggest of them all, and vehicles like Mazda’s CX-5 (1998 sales) and the ageing Nissan X-Trail (1942 units in November) add significant bulk to their company’s respective bottom lines. However, the continuing poor performance of the Equinox (a paltry 376 sales in Australia’s strongest category) is a real concern. Ford’s Escape (nee Kuga) isn’t faring any better, with even lower scores than the Equinox.

Looking at small SUVs, the overall picture is trending slightly downwards, with only Hyundai’s Kona (1001 units) posting growth. Mazda’s CX-3, the evergreen Nissan Qashqai and the ancient Mitsubishi ASX still lead the field, but are showing signs of buyer fatigue.

It’s a similar picture at the large end of SUV town, though Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport has mimicked its Triton stablemate by surging in sales for November. It’s posted 786 sales for the month, trailing Toyota’s dominant Kluger/Prado pairing and the third-placed Isuzu MU-X (by just 14 units) in the category.

COMPARISON Subaru Forester versus the World

And after a solid October, the heat has come out of the sports car segment. The Ford Mustang continues to defy all expectations – its 780-unit total more than doubles the collective total of all other sports cars sold in the month! – while the new $97,000 Alpine A110 debuted strongly with 12 cars sold for the month.