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Car Sales

October New Car Sales Continue To Show A Downwards Slide.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), the peak body for the automotive industry in Australia, has released new vehicle sales figures for the month of October 2019.

According to Tony Weber, chief executive of the FCAI, new vehicles have now seen the nineteenth consecutive month of decreasing sales in the Australian market, with October 2019 sales down 9.1% compared to October 2018. “Year to date sales of new motor vehicles in 2019 are almost 78,000 units (eight per cent) lower than the same period in 2018.“While the drought and other domestic conditions are impacting the market, our key concern is the effect over-regulation of the financial sector is having on new vehicle sales. The FCAI and our members have been concerned about the risk averse approach to lending in Australia for some time and see improved access to finance as a key to driving economic growth in 2020” Mr Weber said. “Of particular interest is the fact that sales are down across all buyer types, with private sales down 5.2 per cent compared to October 2018, business sales are down 8.2 per cent and government sales are down 7.3 per cent.”

Total sales for the month numbered 82,456 vehicles, a decrease of 8,262 vehicles, or 9.1 per cent, on October 2018. During the month, the Sports Utility Market (38,648 units) fell by 3 per cent compared to October 2018, while the Passenger Vehicle Market (23,553 units) was down 15.3 per cent, and the Light Commercial Market (17,164) decreased by 11 per cent.

The Toyota Hilux (3,516 units) was the top selling vehicle in October 2019, followed by the Ford Ranger (3,160). The Hyundai i30 (2,216) was followed by the Toyota RAV4 (2,132) and the Toyota Corolla (2,117). Toyota remained the top selling marque for the month with 16,988 sales for 20.6 per cent market share, followed by Hyundai (7,455 for 9 per cent market share), Mazda (6,370 sales for 7.7 per cent market share), Kia (5,062 sales for 6.1 per cent market share) and Ford (4,891 for 5.9 per cent market share).

Millennials, It’s Your Fault New Car Sales Are Sliding…Apparently

The sharp drop in new car sales throughout 2019 has had no shortage of publicity, particularly now that 18 consecutive months of declining figures have come through. Over that time we’ve heard from experts as to a variety of factors that have contributed to the rut.

From political uncertainty before this year’s election, to a tightening in lending regulations, a weakening economy led by subdued house prices, the effects of a drought, and believe it or not vehicle shipments contaminated by little bugs! Now you can add another ‘explanation’ to the list because millennials, it’s your fault new car sales are sliding…apparently.

 

The underlying trends

You see, the shifting trends among millennials are pointing to a change in views towards car ownership. Younger Australians are holding onto their first vehicle for a longer period of time, or otherwise putting their driver’s licence on the back burner. There is testimony from some industry insiders to suggest that millennials are less comfortable with the idea of a loan than previous generations given a tendency to spend more to stay up to date with the latest technology or to fuel travel and entertainment aspirations.

The prompts are largely coming about through the influence of technology, including the role it is playing on behavioural patterns. First and foremost, the rise of apps like Uber and Ola have reduced dependency on individual vehicle ownership, instead promoting the benefits of a flexible ride-sharing fleet. Online food and grocery services follow the same notion, where a few simple touches on a mobile phone are enough to avoid making that trip to the supermarket.

At the same time, we’re also seeing far greater levels of urban consolidation take place in our major cities. Given the significant rise in house prices since the end of the GFC, many millennials are forgoing the Australian dream to own a home. An increasingly popular choice of action is to rent in highly desirable locations, which typically translates to inner city living or convenient public transport links nearby – both reducing dependency on vehicle ownership.

Finally, vehicle subscription services and peer-to-peer car sharing are becoming more commonplace in this demographic segment as well. A variety of companies have latched onto this trend, allowing anyone to borrow a car from a friendly stranger in their neighbourhood. Who would have thought it would be possible all those years ago?

 

Is there more to it than meets the eye?

Notwithstanding the trends that are taking place, the conversation has really only started to emerge in recent months. Look a little further back however, and what you realise is that new car sales were coming off an all-time high. Quite frankly, a level that some would argue may well turn out to be a short-term peak, or an otherwise unsustainable level once evidence of a slowing economy emerged. These trends have been occurring for some time now, so should have been observed earlier on sales data.

Furthermore, many of these trends are being attributed to millennials, but they sure as heck aren’t the only ones nurturing such changes. Those who have been brought up through these technological and societal changes become an easy target to point the finger at for ‘leading the way’ so to speak, but if this was really at the heart of the matter, then a range of buying incentives should suffice among other demographics to offset this decline.

But the facts remain, we’re seeing high levels of population growth, the lowest interest rates on record, and vehicle prices as affordable as they’ve ever been before. If those initiatives aren’t getting other buyers into the market, to offset a supposed wane in interest among millennials, where does the fault really lie?

 

Ute Buyers Spoilt For Choice

2020 Ford Ranger

Most of us will know the popularity of the ute in Australia.  It’s an awesome type of vehicle for mixing work, play and family duties all together and so easily.  Some utes even scrub up so well that they look stylish enough parked up next to a luxury Mercedes, so it is little wonder as to why we’re seeing the Hilux, Ranger or even Triton being very popular new car buys.

2020 Mitsubishi Triton

Australia’s top-selling modern utes need to be able to tow big weights, carry close to 1000 kg on the tray out the back, be capable 4x4s, drive with premium levels of comfort and refinement, look cool and have the latest technology, infotainment and safety aids.  Tick all these boxes and, if you’re a new ute manufacturer, you can be sure that you’re going to get some foot traffic onto your showroom floors – which will then, hopefully, transfer into those feet driving one of your utes out of your dealership after just having sold the ute.

There are some pretty special new utes available already in Australia, but there will also be some new utes coming in the not-too-distant future.  Hyundai, with joint interest and input from sister company Kia, are poised to bring an exciting ute to Australia.  A team of experts from Hyundai recently visited Australia.  They piloted a detailed ute market research project here in Australia, while also visiting other Asian countries as well as the Middle East.  Hyundai Australia’s CEO, Mr Lee, commented that the new ute would be subject to its extensive local tuning program to tailor it to Australian conditions and consumer tastes.  It sounds like Hyundai are doing their homework very well indeed.  According to Kia Australia, the ute will be offered in a range of single-cab and double-cab body styles with both petrol and diesel engine options.

2020 Jeep Gladiator

The Jeep Gladiator is set to make an entry, and this really is a light truck/ute that imposes itself with immense on-road presence.  It’s big, bold and capable both on and off the road and, essentially, it is a Jeep Wrangler with a big tray out the back.  It will offer Sport, Sport S, Overland and Rubicon trims, and it offers two engine choices: a 3.6-litre Pentaster V6 that delivers 209 kW and 353 Nm, and a torquey 3.0-litre diesel V6 to launch a little further down the track.  The Gladiator stretches 5.54 m in length, 1.88 m wide and up to 1.90 m in height.  A 3.5 tonnes towing weight is no problem.

2020 Ram 1500

In the same vein as the Gladiator, but with even more hulk, is the new Ram 1500, a model that has been birthed out of the Ram Truck Division.  Big on grunt the Ram 1500 comes with an updated 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 engine which should prove more fuel efficient than previous engines.  The new engine is used in the newest Jeep Grand Cherokee and will sit above the entry-level Hemi V8 models.  Taking a look at the 184 kW and 570 Nm figures for the Grand Cherokee, the same engine in the Ram 1500 should be a thumper – providing up to 4.5-tonnes of pulling capability.  So, if you need one of the best tow vehicles then this will be one of them.

Mazda’s new BT-50 will become available next year, and it’s a ute that is being jointly developed with Isuzu.  Tough and strong with masculine looks is what has been indicated.

All the recently updated Toyota HiLux, Mitsubishi Triton, Ford Ranger, Holden Colorado, Nissan Navara, Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50 are still available.  And don’t forget the powerful VW and Mercedes options that are growing in popularity as well.  Ssangyong ‘s new Musso looks the real deal and delivers on rugged reliability and affordability, and will be well worth a look if you’re about to purchase a new ute for yourself.

2020 Ssangyong Musso

Ute buyers are spoilt for choice!

Jeep Grand Cherokee Hits The Summit.

Jeep Australia has released details about a new range topping version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Summit will be available from $84,450 plus on-roads. Power will be supplied via a Remote Start capable 3.0L V6 diesel with 184kW and a hefty 570Nm of torque. Transmission is an eight speed auto, with a mooted combined consumption figure of 7.0L per 100 kilometres. Oomph hits the dirt and tarmac via the Quadra-Drive and Selec-Terrain system that includes Snow, Rock, Mud, Sand, and Auto. The Quadra-Lift suspension has five preset ride height positions. Towing is rated as up to 3.5 tonnes.Outside are 20 inch wheels, and includes the Platinum Package. That includes Platinum chrome and gloss black Jeep 7-slot grille and front & rear lower fascia applique. Unique features outside include a refined front fascia with LED fog lights. The rear is also restyled and includes a pair of trapezoidal exhaust tips. Sill cladding and wheel arches, mirror caps and door handles are body coloured.

Inside are NaturaPlus leather seats, suede-like headlining, and “Summit” illuminated door sill plates. Above the passengers is the Dual-Pane glass sunroof. Harman Kardon supply a 19 speaker, 825 Watt amp, sound system, UConnect 8.4 inch Touchscreen with Digital Radio, Bluetooth Phone/Audio and Navigation, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Seats front and are powered and heated, as is the tiller. Front seats are vented as well, a smart move for the Australian market. Safety features are ticked, with the basic and extras. Reverse camera partners with front & rear parking sensors, as does the Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision Warning. Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Warning are backed by Lane Departure Warning.

Options are limited to just the Signature Leather-Wrapped Interior Package. This includes ‘Laguna’ quilted leather seats, leather wrapped upper and lower door panels, plus leather wrapped console and glovebox. Rear seat passengers can have a Blu-Ray/DVD Entertainment system.Interior noise is reduced courtesy of the acoustic rear windscreen and second row door glass. This helps to enhance the Harmon Kardon “Active Noise Cancellation” technology and is said to reduce exterior noise by up to 10dB.

Head to hthe Jeep Australia website for more.

New Direction For Global Car Sales

A recent inventory on who the top passenger car manufacturers were worldwide showed that Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai and GM are the three leading passenger car manufacturers in the world.  Where are most of our new cars made?  The highly competitive nature of the global vehicle production industry reveals that most of the companies are based in Europe, Japan, South Korea, and the US.  Interestingly, the world’s largest producers of automobiles are China, the US, and Japan.

With this in mind, the four biggest passenger car manufacturers in the world in 2017 were: Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai and General Motors.  Both Toyota and VW produced close to 10.5 million vehicles in 2017, with Toyota only just nudging out VW from the top spot.  Hyundai produced a little over 7 million while GM produced just fewer than 7 million vehicles.

Since I’ve got you interested, have a guess as to who you think would be next.  Well, another US manufacturer, Ford, takes fifth place with 6.4 million cars produced.  Nissan is next on 5.8 million, closely followed by Honda on 5.2 million.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V., known as FCA, is an Italian-American multinational corporation and is the world’s eighth largest auto maker with 4.6 million units produced.

Two French car manufacturing groups finish out the top ten.  So in at ninth and tenth respectively are Renault with 4.2 million and Groupe PSA with 3.6 million.  Groupe PSA is a French multinational manufacturer of vehicles sold under the Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Opel and Vauxhall brands.

After some really big growth in 2017, there are a few signs that the car manufacturing industry is struggling a little.  Some of the recent news has been that Ford plans to close its Bridgend plant next year.  In February, Honda said it would close its Swindon plant by 2021.  It comes as car-makers around the globe struggle with a range of challenges, and it appears that consumers are buying fewer cars.

A few possible reasons why global car sales in 2018 experienced falling demand are:

  • Because China, the world’s biggest market, has experienced a slump in demand.
  • Stricter emission controls are making the development of new cars that will meet emissions regulations a lot more difficult. The need for new technology to meet these higher standards makes it more expensive to build cars.
  • The big movement to make electric vehicles (EVs) requires new investment. While it would also be fair to say that many countries just aren’t ready with the infrastructure to handle millions of new EVs.  Global sales of battery electric cars surged by 73% in 2018 to 1.3 million units, but 1.3 million is still just a fraction of the 86 million cars sold worldwide.  China is making great strides in creating plenty of EV infrastructures.  The other difficulty with EVs is they have very limited driving range.
  • As more and more driverless cars become mainstream it is conceivable that car ownership habits may change. If one driverless car drives as safely as the next driverless car then it might be that people would be happier to share or group-rent a vehicle rather than buy one outright just for themselves.

Women and Their New Car

According to recent Forbes research, 62% of new car buyers in America are women.  They also suggest that 85% of new car buys are influenced by women.  Australia can’t be too far behind these stats, either.  But when it comes to spending habits, men and women are still vastly different, with very different priorities for their money.  Research shows that men are more likely to splash out and buy big, whereas women focus more on lifestyle which also means being comfortable with spending money on a new car without the guilt.  These spending habits and goal orientations do also align with what sort of cars women and men generally buy.

Think about this for an example.  Just over 90% of those purchasing a Ferrari are men.  Men tend to love big, fast cars more and are image conscious, like to focus on style and are more likely to be turned on by a car’s technology.  On the other hand, generally speaking, most women tend to be more concerned with how reliable and safe their new car will be, the car’s style and colour, and whether it will fit her needs.

A few years ago Autogenie did a bit of research from a random sampling of around 6000 brand new vehicles that were purchased back in 2013, and it was consistently divided between male and female buyers.  The study noted that women bought small cars and SUVs, while men preferred to buy sedans and ute’s.  Interestingly, the most popular vehicles that were purchased by male buyers were the Ford Mondeo, the Ford Ranger ute and the Toyota Hilux ute.  Women new car buyers preferred buying the Mazda6, Toyota Kluger SUV and Holden Barina city car.

Mazda3 a Winner With Women

The study also revealed that both male and female new car buyers liked the Mazda3.  Both the Mazda CX-5 and Volkswagen Golf made it to the best five most accepted models that men and women liked equally.  Among the male buyers, the larger Holden Commodore was well-accepted, finishing as the 4th most wanted model.  On the other hand, female customers preferred to buy smaller cars, and these were the Mazda3, Hyundai i30 and VW Golf.

But let’s, for moment, take the gender comparison out of what drives a buyer to buy a particular type of new car, and we find that everyone has different priorities for purchasing a new car.  The car’s fuel economy, purchase price, looks, interior space, and the number of luxury items and gadgets will all be factors which will tip the scales toward buying one new car from the other.

The ways people are buying new cars are also changing.  A lot more people now use online reviews and online guidelines to get an idea about vehicles they would, or might like to, buy.  Particularly women are turning to their social networks — both online and offline — for vehicle recommendations, according to Cars.com research.  Women like to turn to their friends and family for recommendations of what new car to buy because they don’t have a specific car in mind that they want to get.

Hatch, Sedan or SUV?

Women are looking for a vehicle that will fit their lifestyle, so they will need something for hauling their big dogs to the beach or something for traveling safely on back roads or something that’ll make the city traffic and tight spaces less stressful.  Women focus on safety, reliability and comfort. They’re also less brand loyal than male new car buyers.  These findings have been backed up by J.D. Power research.  Men will be more common to place performance and style on their car want list, as well as the latest technology like panoramic moonroofs and multimedia systems.

Buying a new car is always exciting.  During August, in Australia, the top-selling cars (in order from most bought to least) were:  Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai i30, Toyota RAV4, Mazda3, Toyota LandCruiser, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi Triton and the Nissan X-Trail.  I wonder which ones were bought most by women?

5 Ways Car Makers Reduce Price Competition

It’s a murky world the Australian automotive industry. Always has been and probably always will be.  When big, emotional purchases are on the table and there’s a complicated system of sales distribution, it’s always going to be difficult for the consumer to work out what’s a good deal.

The ‘problem’ is you can only buy a new car from an official new car dealership, licensed by the manufacturer.  Unlike almost any other product there aren’t new car resellers, independent distributors or outlets.  The actual purchase must always take place at a dealership and that dealership must be bound by conditions and obligations bound by the carmaker.  This means the manufacturer is in a unique position to influence the sales process and therefore the competition.

Of late there’s been significant interest from the ACCC and the government into what this means for the consumer in terms of pricing competition and transparency and also for the long-suffering dealerships.

 

In June, the ACCC announced they were examining the competition risk from the merger of the two biggest new car dealer groups in Australia

“The ACCC’s preliminary view is that the proposed acquisition is unlikely to substantially lessen competition for the supply of new cars in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane or nationally”

 

In August, the Morrison government announced a reform entitled ‘Delivering a fair and competitive car retailing sector’

“We have heard the concerns of those within the sector and are committed to creating a level playing field. It’s about ensuring everyone gets a fair go, including our small and family car dealers,”

 

This is squarely addressing the influence that car manufacturers have on the new car marketplace in particular with respect to their franchise agreements.

Private Fleet, having relationship with over 1,000 new car dealers, is uniquely placed to have recognised and worked through many of these issues over the last 20 years.  Here are 6 ways the car makers restrict competition:

 

1) Don’t Advertise Discounted Prices

Most independent businesses are unrestricted when it comes to what price to set for their products and services.  After all, it’s their profit margin so makes sense that they can vary their pricing structure to suit their needs.  Not so with new cars.  If a dealer advertises a new car at below RRP (or current national driveaway special), they will risk the wrath of the car manufacturers and likely be instructed to take the ad down

2) Don’t Advertise In Other Territories

Car makers allocate each dealer a ‘PMA’ or Primary Marketing Area.  If dealers advertise outside of these defined boundaries then, again, they’ll get a tap on the shoulder from the manufacturer.

3) Discourage Working With Brokers or Car Buying Services

Hits close to the bone this one.  But for almost all of our 20 years OEMs have put pressure on dealers to only sell directly and not through intermediaries who aren’t contracted to the sales and pricing conditions as the dealers themselves.  Thankfully, although dealers would never dare to publicly challenge this, in practice they have a business to run and overheads to meet so this ‘advice’ is generally ignored.  Here’s an extract from one of Toyota’s many dealer communications on the subject.

“Toyota is aware that new vehicle brokers and buyers agents may be acting as intermediaries between customers and Toyota Dealers.  This practise is of concern to Toyota.  Toyota strongly believes that Toyota Dealers are best placed to fully service the needs of Toyota customers.”

4) You Can’t Sell Brand-X if You Sell Our Brand

More and more there are multi-franchised dealers across Australia.  This makes sense especially for consumers as it makes it easier to compare models & prices in one spot.  However certain manufacturers will throw their weight around and threaten to rescind a franchise agreement if a dealer looks to take on a new ‘competing brand’.

5) No Trucking of Cars on Delivery

Dressed up as being the optimal delivery process, certain manufacturers (particularly prestige brands) insist on a personal handover between dealer and car buyer at the time of delivery.  But in practise this limits the scope of where a buyer can buy from unless they are prepared to travel a huge distance to compare options.  Consider Lexus buyers in Perth – there’s one dealer in WA.  Interstate dealers are prohibited from trucking cars across the country so where’s the competition there?

6) You Must Spend $$$ to Promote our Brand

Once a dealership is ‘granted’ a franchise, along with the agreement is a heavy obligation towards supporting the manufacturer’s brand even over the actual dealerships brand.  Want to sell plenty of cars without the fancy dealership overheads?  Nope, sell our cars and you’ve got to spend X million on an ultra-fancy forecourt to help fly the flag.  No efficient volume sales channels here please.

 

Without exception all these restrictions lead to less pricing competition for the consumer.  But what about the poor old car dealer?  Yes, I’m serious!  The dealers have their pressures and obligations to meet, staff to pay and doors to keep open. If they were allowed to run like normal independent businesses, what impact would that have on prices?  What efficiencies would we see flowing through the whole current sales process?

NEXT: Import restrictions, dealer ‘holdback’, legal intimidation…

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Kia Picanto GT

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 Kia Picanto GT. It’s the pert and perky little five door hatch, with minor and tastefully styled body add-ons, an energetic powerplant, and a fun factor that’s off the scale. It’s a screaming bargain at just $17,990 driveaway.Under The Bonnet Is: A zippy and free spinning three cylinder petrol engine with a real warble when it’s spinning up. There are 74kW available at 4,500rpm, and a very useful 172Nm from 1,500rpm to 4,000rpm. Power heads to the front wheels via a five speed manual. Boost and bang for the milk-bottle sized engine comes from a turbocharger that adds plenty of sizzle. The dry weight of the Picanto GT is just 1,007kg, which means that the power and torque, plus the five speed, don’t need to work hard to provide the spark.

Tank size is just 35L for the standard unleaded fuel. Economy, says Kia, is 4.8L per 100km for the combined. In the urban cycle, its far more likely home, it’s 6.2L/100km. Get it onto the freeways and that drops to 4.0L/100km. We finished on 6.4L/100km on our mainly urban test cycle.On The Outside It’s: The same little block of Picanto that’s been available for a few years but now with extra grin. There are colour highlights from inserts outside and in, new wheels, front bar additions with driving lights and extra air intakes, whilst the rear gets the cool “neon” light look at night plus a twin exhaust and a diffuser style add-on. Nexen supplies the 195/45 N Blue Plus rubber to wrap the 16 inch eight spoke alloys. The review car came clad in Aurora Black, with the GT also having Clear White, Signal Red, and Titanium Silver.

On The Inside It’s: Comfortable and familiar, yet carries a bit more cachet. There are red leather highlights on the front seats, alloy pedals with rubber strips for extra foot grip, and red backlighting for the switchgear. There’s some brightwork on the tiller and piano black for the console stack. Seats are manually adjusted but with the not-quite-as user friendly levers rather than the dials which are MUCH more user friendly. Luggage space is 255L with the rear seats up, 1,055L with seats down. It’s JUST enough, if packed correctly, to carry a decent weekly family shop but if it’s a really decent shop, then the space behind the front seats will need to be used.Space itself is more than adequate for a couple, but go more than three then the Picanto’s 3,595mm length and 2,400mm wheelbase come into play. Thankfully the front seat room is enough for all but basketball players so pulled forward the rear leg room becomes tenable. Shoulder room is a bit cosy thanks to the 1,595mm and headroom is fine even with a 1,485mm height.Storage comes in the form of two cup holders in the centre console, bottle holders for the front doors, a coat hook and net hooks in the cargo area. Sounds are from a non-DAB equipped audio system but Bluetooth streaming is standard. Sound quality isn’t as good as it could be either, with depth and punch not on the same level as other systems found in Kias. Apple and Android apps are standard as well. That’s a good thing for those that use them as satnav is not standard.What About Safety?: Covered. Sort of…AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking) with FCWS (Forward Collision Warning System) leads the party, backed up by a reverse camera and rear parking sensors. LED driving lights up front add visual safety and add to the visual presence and the headlights are Auto on. BUT, and it’s a big but, no Rear Cross Traffic Alert, no Blind Spot Alert, no Lane Keep Assist, no front sensors, hold back the Picanto GT in crucial areas.

On The Road It’s: An absolute bundle of fun. The engine is a cracker and the gearbox is well specced for cogs. The clutch is light and really could do with more feedback as to where the pedal is in travel and where the plates are in gripping. Once the driver has worked that out though, practice gets the pickup point and shifts to launch just right. However the spring loading for the gear selector is also light and a touch vague in where the lever goes. The gate is close so a slide from second to third feels like it’s in the same line, and there isn’t enough definition in the shifter’s movement to properly advise where the lever’s going.

ONCE everything is worked out, the little engine that could, does. It’s got a real warmth to the sound, yes, but the appeal is in how it pulls the Picanto GT , in how it allows tractability in gentle around town driving or getting serious on the freeway. It’s geared for easy going driving, but also some get up and go squirt as required. The turbo kicks in at just under 2,000 and on the freeway that gearing allows a push of the pedal to see the Picanto GT rocket forward. It’s accompanied by a thrum, a not unpleasant rumble from the three cylinder donk, which is muted when not being pressed.Off the line it’s easy to feel pressed back into the seat easily when driving in anger. There is some real urge in this tiny engine and it’s something a driver can exploit and enjoy. Bang the gear selector from first to second to third and the GT simply rolls on inexorably, seamless in its acceleration. Throw out the picks and the lightweight car slows quickly and confidently.And thanks to the slightly bigger footprint, and the grippier tyres, hard-arsed cornering can be exploited and enjoyed too. Under power the Picanto GT can be punted into turns that would see the speedo read 20, 30 km/h slower (depending on the corner’s radius and driving conditions) whilst taking advantage of the engine on boost.

Ride quality is good but not great. The rear end is prone to a little skipping around on the roads that have the expansion joints and the whole car will crash bang on missing road sections. It’s a suspension that is flat and taut but not supple enough to dial these out.

What About Warranty?:
There is Kia’s 7 years warranty as standard. That’s with unlimited kilometres. Roadside assist is for 12 months initially however if the Picanto GT is brought to Kia for servicing then that extends to 7 years coverage also. Servicing is capped price and for every 15,000 kilometres or annually, whichever occurs first.At The End Of The Drive. The Kia Picanto GT is an embodiment of the words “pocket rocket”. That 172Nm of torque is so useable in a small car, and somehow manages to stay engaging even when loaded with two adults, a ten year old, and shopping. It’s the gear selector and clutch that blunts the engine’s sharpness as these really could do with tightening up. Ride quality is also not quite en’ pointe as there’s a lack of the absorption needed in the upper end of the travel.

The lack of DAB isn’t crucial but FM sounded dull. If a GT designation is to indicate a top of the tree model, then add a top of the tree audio setup. Make up your own mind by going here.

 

Sales Are Down Again For The Aussie Market.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, or FCAI, has released the June 2019 vehicle sales figures for Australia’s once thriving market. What it reveals is a pointer to the rest of the economy, with sales down overall by 9.6 percent. Compared to the same time in 2018, it’s even more drastic, at 18.5 percent lower for the passenger car segment at 33,864 sales.

June 2019 saw 117,817 sales in total, with SUVs and Light Commercial vehicles down to 53,509 and 26,372 respectively. These two segments saw drops of 4.7 and 7.0 percent each. The market leader in June was Toyota with 21,200 sales, followed by Mazda on 10,806, Hyundai with 10,001, Mitsubishi at 8,891, and Kia with 7,200. However it’s good news for one particular brand, with four entries inside the top ten.

Toyota takes out the top of the ladder, with the HiLux moving 5,396 units, but still down on last year by 6.9%. Ford’s Ranger is position 2 and showed a slight increase of 1.7%, up to 4,871 units. Grid position 3 belongs to Hyundai’s i30 range with 3,340, down by 5.8%. Toyota’s evergreen Corolla went to 3137 unit’s and that’s the third biggest decrease in the top ten at 17.3%. Position five is Mazda’s CX-5, down by 7.2% to 2,911.

Kia’s new Cerato is the big mover, up by 14%, with 2,832 unit finding new homes for position 6. Position 7 was Mitsubishi’s Triton, and compared to June of 2018 it’s down by 31.2% but this is accounted for by the outgoing model being on runout some time ago. The Mazda3 goes into Position 8 with 2,533 units, but that’s down by 23.9% compared to June 2018. Toyota takes out positions 9 and 10 with the RAV4 and Landcruiser, with 2,449 and 2,360. Again, though, they’re down by 9.0 and 707% respectively.

In brand sales Toyota holds top spot ahead of Mazda and Hyundai. Mitsubishi heads Ford for 4th and 5th, whilst Kia, Volkswagen, Nissan, Honda, and Holden fill out the top ten. It’s worth noticing that some of the brands in the top ten overall don’t feature in the top ten vehicle types. Nor do some of the more supposedly popular brands such as Mercedes-Benz or BMW.

SUVs and Utes Globally Unstoppable

Toyota RAV4 SUV

This year is shaping up to be an exciting and interesting year for car sales in Australia.  Currently, the Toyota Hilux is selling well above even the second biggest seller: the Ford Ranger.  With over 4,500 sales in March, Toyota and there owners are loving life.  Ford Ranger during the same period sold 3721 units.  But take a look at this list and you’ll see that of the top ten models sold in Australia six of them are utes and SUVs.

  1. Toyota Hilux
  2. Ford Ranger
  3. Mitsubishi Triton
  4. Mazda3
  5. Toyota Corolla
  6. Mazda CX-5
  7. Hyundai i30
  8. Mitsubishi ASX
  9. Mitsubishi Outlander
  10. Kia Cerato

What about in the rest of the world?  Well, it continues to be true that more SUV and utes are being purchased than any other type of car in Australia and around the world.  In fact, the world’s most popular ute was not the Hilux but the Ford F-series (light truck).  Sorry Toyota lovers, but Ford takes you out globally!!  With well over 1 million F-series sold last year, that’s very impressive!  In New Zealand, Kiwis have a taste for the Ford Ranger more so than the Hilux, too.  But this isn’t about Ford being better than Toyota – just saying…

Ford F-Series

Now for redemption time for me, so as to get back on side with Toyota fans.  Last year the world’s most popular SUV was the Toyota RAV4.  It was also the most popular SUV in New Zealand.  Maybe all the rental car companies that love the robust and reliable nature of the RAV4 make up a big swag of those RAV4 global sales numbers.  The roads between Christchurch and Milford Sound are teeming with RAV4s!

So why do you think that the SUV and utes are growing so much in popularity here and around the world?  It could well be because a decade or so ago utes and SUVs were vehicles that had a bit of a hard nose to them, with a more practical bent to them.  Some utes were tremendously good at carrying loads but hideously uncomfortable to travel any longer distances with.  Today your SUV and ute still has huge practical merit but they are way more comfortable and sophisticated.  And who can argue with the SUVs ability to accommodate seven occupants?  It gets a bit difficult putting seven seats inside a stationwagon with room to spare; and just totally impossible trying to fit seven seats inside a sedan.

With these sort of stats rolling off car sales yards, one could easily say that SUVs and utes are very much taking over the world, and this regardless of rising fuel prices.