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Sales and Fails in the Australian Auto Market.

We should all know by now that the Australian car industry, in a manufacturing sense, is in a bit of a mess, with Ford, Holden and Toyota wrapping up as local makers by 2017. There’s no doubt that it will impact on employees; for example, Toyota’s Caringbah, Sydney, office will be largely condensed staff wise as will the two Melbourne based plants. All of the company’s corporate functions will be consolidated at Toyota Australia’s head office in Port Melbourne, resulting in “a significant reduction in corporate support roles”. Ford will keep a design team working on international projects, as will Holden.

Grand CherokeeThere’s conjecture as to which vehicles Freemont Crossroadwill be coming to Australia, especially for the American owned companies but, at the moment, sales in certain categories and for certain brands are bubbling along nicely. Fiat/Chrysler/Alfa Australia (FCA Australia) leads the SUV segment, with the Grand Cherokee the biggest seller up to 30 November, with over 15,500 units, an increase of over thirty five percent from 2013. The Cherokee itself, released as a new model in June of 2014, has shifted over 3400 units, an incredible effort. Fiat’s perky 500 and model shared Freemont have also increased in sales from 2013; the 500 by 54% and the Freemont (aka Dodge Journey) by 44%.

Japanese maker, Mitsubishi, is also riding on the crest of the SUV wave, with its small SUV, the ASX, moving 1763 units in November, helped by ChallengerMazda3an aggressive marketing campaign. However, the Triton based Challenger failed to excite, with just 156 units finding new homes. The Mirage sedan, still relatively new to the Australian market, also failed to fire, with a miniscule 70 being sold, compared to the hatch at 352.
Compare that to Mazda, a perennial favourite, it seems; leading the way was the All-New Mazda3 with 3,499 November sales. While annual numbers approach 40,000, its tally is up almost four per cent Year-On-Year in a segment that is down six per cent in 2014. The BT-50 had a great November, selling 1209 units, whilst the Mazda2 moved 1096 however nearly 800 were of the newly released version.

A brand on the move is the Korean giant, Hyundai. In November there was a record 8600 vehicles sold, making it the 30th month in a row that the company has seen increased sales. It also puts Hyundai second overall Genesisin the Australian market (year to date) as well as passenger cars. In the light car segment, the i20 (soon to be superseded) leads the pack, with 1448 signatures on a contract for November. A further five Hyundai models achieved podium results in November, with Veloster, ix35, iMax and iLoad all finishing in second place in their respective segments while the combined sales of i30 and Elantra had them finishing second in the Small segment, with i30 taking outright third place in that segment. It’s too early to tell just what impact the newly released Genesis will make.

Ford’s Falcon, which has just been released, was on a hiding to nothing with its 2.0L EcoBoost engine. As good as the reviews are, Ford has sold just 1800 since the car was released, all the way back in April of 2012. That figure includes just seven bought by the Australian Federal Government. However, with the new Mondeo due in 2015 (and largely mooted to be the Falcon replacement) with EcoBoost standard across the range, there may be a nudge in the right direction for the ailing big car. But Falcon isn’t the only large car suffering, with the segment contracting by 7.3% since last year, down to nearly 43500 from just under 47000 at this time last year.

2015 and beyond looks to be very interesting times for the Australian automotive industry.