Tim O'Brien | Jun 4, 2009

THE VFACTS FIGURES for May show that there are some interesting things happening in the light car segment – besides the scratching and biting for top-dog honours.

There is a shift occurring that the month-on-month results do not fully expose. Yaris is still number one in the segment with 7904 sales year-to-date and Getz is second, with 7263 sales.

But Yaris is down 27.7 percent against its 10,934 sales in 2008 YTD, while Getz is up 3.8 percent and closing fast.

Have a guess then who is heading to top spot. (Hellooo Getz…)

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One rung down, you can throw a hanky over the next five: but three are going down like the spuds at an Irish breakfast, one is holding station and another is on an unstoppable rise.

Two more months of those trends and the segment will look a whole lot different.

In third spot, but going down, is the Mazda2, with 5262 sales YTD, down 16.0 percent for the year.

In fourth place, down 15.3 percent YTD with 4697 sales, is the Suzuki Swift. While in fifth place is the unlikely Holden Barina, with 4303 sales YTD, but down 18.8 percent.

Something has spooked Mazda2, Swift and Barina; all three are on significant declines and losing ground ahead of the total market. Who would ever have thought that?

Honda’s Jazz, meanwhile, is holding station with 4189 sales YTD; down slightly, but just 3.5 percent off last year’s sales.

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The real attack though is coming from below. Bolting up the ladder is Ford’s Fiesta. It is now repeating in this market what it has been doing in Europe – eating the opposition alive. Its sales are up 31 percent for the month of May and up 9.0 percent with 3599 sales YTD.

Its YTD figures would be even stronger but for the fact it was launched for sale late in January (Australia Day), with no auto initially and hamstrung for supplies in its first few months.

The Fiesta is on the rise with a silver bullet. If it can maintain its current momentum in the market, it will soon be brushing aside those middle players in the segment.

The biggest surprise of all though is the poorly performing Mitsubishi Colt. Compared to the top half-dozen, it barely disturbs the scorer. (And is so far off the pace it is running in glue.)

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In May, just 145 Colts exited Mitsubishi dealerships; a decline of 56.8 percent for the month. Only 978 have been sold this year, a decline of 36.1 percent over last year.

But the Colt’s not a bad car. Certainly better than those figures would suggest; but for some reason, it just hasn’t caught on. Markets are funny things.

Sometimes there is neither rhyme nor reason as to why some are anointed winners and others losers.

But if you were selling them and you were looking at a Fiesta or a Getz in your dealership right now, you’d be a grinner. (And you would have to spare a thought for the poor sod trying to sell a Colt.)