Holden has seen its market share almost halve in just three years.
Holden has seen its market share almost halve in just three years.

Vehicle sales on the skids as car market slowdown continues

BIG discounts and incentives have failed to boost the struggling new car market - and a former Aussie favourite is in sharp decline.

The new car sales tally for April was just 75,550, against 82,930 for the same month last year.

This shows a decline in new car sales of about 9 per cent in April and 8 per cent for the year according to the latest data from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).

Buyers are fleeing passenger cars in droves. The segment - which excludes SUVs and light commercial vehicles - is down a whopping 17 per cent for the year.

The Toyota HiLux remains the top selling vehicle in the country.
The Toyota HiLux remains the top selling vehicle in the country.

Even sales of the former sales darlings, SUVs and utes, have dropped, by 4.6 per cent and 1 per cent respectively.

Sharp discounts during the end of Japanese financial year (on March 31) couldn't pull some the country's most popular brands out of the doldrums.

Toyota's sales were down 9 per cent in April or more than 6 per cent for the year.

Mazda fared better thanks to the arrival of the new Mazda3 hatch, though sales were still down 1 per cent for April and 4 per cent for the year.

Former homegrown manufacturer Holden is having a devastating year with sales down by 24 per cent. The now global Holden Commodore logged just 629 sales in April, a far cry from circa-2000 monthly sales just three years ago. In that same period Holden's market share has shrunk from 7.8 per cent to just 4.4 per cent.

Holden has now been surpassed by Kia and Volkswagen in the year-to-date tallies.

Ford sales are virtually reliant on the Ford Ranger ute.
Ford sales are virtually reliant on the Ford Ranger ute.

Ford, too, is having a rough time, down more than 9 per cent for the year. The Blue Oval is reliant on sales of the Ford Ranger - its next best seller, the niche Mustang sports car, selling about 400 last month.

Mitsubishi basks in the sole bright spot in the new car market. Sales have increased by more than 12 per cent for the year, even after a slump in April of 14 per cent on the same month last year.

The maker's sales vigour is the more remarkable given its line-up consisting of mostly ageing machines. Even the arrival of the refreshed Triton ute with added safety gear couldn't boost sales in April.

Mitsubishi refreshed the Triton ute but still had a sales slump in April.
Mitsubishi refreshed the Triton ute but still had a sales slump in April.

Luxury badges are on the nose in Australia, too, with Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz sales declining in 2019. Volvo, coming off a smaller sales base, has experienced strong growth this year with a rise of 34 per cent.

FCAI boss Tony Weber cites economic and environmental factors as causing the downturn.

"The results for April are in line with trends for year-to-date 2019," says Weber, putting the decrease at about 8 per cent.

"This decrease is the result of a number of factors in the Australian market, including the downturn in the housing market, the tightening of lending practices, environmental factors such as drought and flood, and, of course, the imminent Federal Government election.

The success of the Mazda CX-5 has offset some of the Japanese brand’s losses in other areas.
The success of the Mazda CX-5 has offset some of the Japanese brand’s losses in other areas.

"With all these elements currently present in the market, it is no surprise that Australian consumers are conservative in their approach to major purchases at the moment."

Once again, utes topped the sales charts in April - the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger. The Mitsubishi Triton went from No. 3 in March to 14th spot in April with 1162 sold. Behind the two workhorses, the usual players made up the top 10.

Top 10 cars in April

Toyota HiLux - 3621

Ford Ranger - 3011

Toyota Corolla - 2429

Mazda3 - 2195

Hyundai i30 - 1910

Mazda CX-5 - 1827

Kia Cerato - 1650

Toyota Prado - 1473

Hyundai Tucson - 1355

Toyota Camry - 1274

Top 10 makes in April

Toyota - 15,135

Mazda - 7644

Hyundai - 6469

Ford - 4803

Mitsubishi - 4717

Kia - 4521

VW - 3505

Holden - 3483

Nissan - 3025

Subaru - 3006


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