Tim O'Brien | Jul 8, 2009

THERE ARE SOME SIGNIFICANT undercurrents evident in the VFACTS figures, published by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries earlier this week, that might easily be overlooked.

The Australian economy has slowed, right? Not as much as developed economies elsewhere (which are mostly galloping backwards), but skating along on the edge of recession.

Well, tell that to the premium brands Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Each has out-performed the market which was down 16.1 percent in June compared to June 2008. Audi is up 10 percent year-to-date (YTD), Mercedes-Benz down just 6.5 percent, and BMW down 14 percent YTD.

It must be remembered that the Australian market that was booming in the first half of 2008 did not slow until the third and fourth quarters, which makes this result the more remarkable.

Perhaps the heels of the well-heeled are bearing up nicely in the current climate, at least for now.

Also interesting, at the other end of the scale, is the inexorable march up the table of the Koreans: Hyundai and Kia. In fact, if the Japanese brands are not looking nervously over their shoulders by now, they should.

hyundai_i30_hatch

Hyundai is up 22.6 percent YTD against the first half last year, Kia down just 10.0 percent YTD.

So, premium Euro badges doing alright, the Koreans and the light car segment also holding up. That makes two ends of the market outperforming the rest: the mid-priced medium and large car segments.

Seems it is the ‘Joe-averages’ of the country, the family buyers and the salaried middle class, who are feeling the current downturn keenest (and can’t access the 50 percent tax rebate on business vehicle purchases).

So, to put you fully in the picture… here’s the current top 15 by marque and their performance year-to-date against the first half of 2008.

  1. Toyota: 94,233 first-half sales, down 26.1 percent YTD
  2. Holden: 56,152 first-half sales, 16.3 percent YTD
  3. Ford: 46,456 first-half sales, 14.7 percent YTD
  4. Mazda: 38,603 first-half sales, 9.2 percent YTD
  5. Hyundai: 29,935 first-half sales, up 22.6 percent YTD
  6. Mitsubishi: 27,063 first-half sales, 23.0 percent YTD
  7. Nissan: 26,954 first-half sales, 12.5 percent YTD
  8. Honda: 22,350 first-half sales, 25.9 percent YTD
  9. Subaru: 19,009 first-half sales, 8.6 percent YTD
  10. Volkswagen: 15,934 first-half sales, 2.9 percent YTD
  11. Suzuki: 10,012 first-half sales, 17.5 percent YTD
  12. Kia: 9,938 first-half sales, 10.2 percent YTD
  13. Mercedes-Benz: 9,398 first-half sales, 6.5 percent YTD
  14. BMW: 8,021 first-half sales, 14.0 percent YTD
  15. Audi: 5,611 first-half sales, 10.0 percent YTD

Octavia Facelift 2008

Of the rest, just outside the top 30, Skoda and Jaguar are firming, up 25.9 percent and 4.8 percent respectively. With new models and updated styling, you can expect to see Skoda in the top 30 in the next two months.

The rental sector will have to return to the market soon (it’s all-but vanished in the past eight months); when it does, the medium and large car sector will get a small but useful boost.