WITH the first month of 2018 done and dusted, the outlook is already looking good for the two big winners in last year’s new car sales race: light commercials and SUVs.
Both segments saw big year-on-year gains in January 2018, with overall SUV sales posting a 10.9 percent increase in sales compared to last January while light commercials, buoyed by evergreen demand for high-riding utes, registered 20.3 percent sales growth.
Across all segments, Australian new car sales were 4.3 percent ahead of where they were this time last year.
In the SUV realm, it was the small and medium categories that supplied the bulk of growth. Small SUV sales surged by 24.5 percent in the sub-$40k bracket, while premium small SUVS price $40K and above enjoyed even greater growth at 34.5 percent against January 2017.
Midsize SUV uptake also underwent healthy increases, with sales of mainstream brands pumping up by 19.8 percent and those of premium marques ($60K and over) logging 16.3 percent growth. Large SUV sales contracted, meanwhile, with total large SUV registrations dropping by 10.6 percent.
With 4x4 utes continuing to sell strongly with fleets and private buyers alike, the category grew by 26.6 percent. Even the 4x2 utility segment, usually only favoured by commercial fleets, enjoyed good success in January, logging six percent year-on-year growth.
In the passenger car world, the numbers weren’t as bright. The only categories to see growth were premium upper large cars, largely due to strong demand for the S-Class and Porsche Panamera, and high-end sports cars priced over $200K.
Every other passenger car segment shrank in January, with total segment sales falling 8.7 percent.
There were, however, individual winners. Audi’s fresh A5 coupe recorded a healthy 82 percent increase, and the freshly-updated BRZ and price-adjusted Nissan 370Z each saw meaningful gains – the latter also helped along by the recent arrival of the 370Z Nismo.
Meanwhile the BMW 7 Series and Maserati Ghibli bucked the downtrend across the upper premium market, and the Hyundai Sonata and all-new Toyota Camry both proved that there was still some life in the otherwise tepid midsize segment.
In smaller categories, winners included the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, BMW 1 Series, Skoda Rapid, Honda Civic, Suzuki Swift and a trio of Holdens: the Barina, Spark and Astra.
They were outliers, however, as buyers continued their migration from traditional passenger cars to SUVs.