Tim O'Brien | Oct 6, 2009

VFACTS SALES RESULTS for September show a market in recovery. Barring any unexpected financial jolts (and anything is possible, like nervousness about interest rates for instance), 2009 sales are likely to end the year just 10 percent down on 2008.

At this point in the year, total sales are down 13.1 percent on last year. However, 2008 sales flattened off markedly in the December quarter.

In the passenger car sector, there are some clear winners and equally clear losers across each of the segments. Of the losers, some of whom have dismal forward prospects, you have to begin to wonder how long they can hold a place in the market.

 

Light Cars Market Segment

In the Light Cars segment, Hyundai's Getz is still hot, and getting hotter. Since nudging the Yaris from top spot some months back, it now holds 16.2 percent share of the segment, with 15.7 percent growth year-to-date (YTD). It is well clear of Honda's Jazz in second spot with 14.1 percent of the segment, and up 13.0 percent YTD.

Following in third place is the Yaris with 12.6 percent share of the segment, but down 27.1 percent YTD, with Mazda2 in fourth spot, down 16.6 percent YTD.

Next is Swift with 10.1 percent share; Barina with 8.7 percent; Fiesta still underperforming with 7.7 percent (but up 26.8 percent YTD), followed by Kia's Rio with 7.1 percent sales share of the segment.

The big surprise in this segment is Mitsubishi's capable but neglected Colt, holding a dismal 1.0 percent of the segment, and down 52.4 percent YTD.

Of the others at the bottom of the barrel - and you have to wonder why they bother - are the Proton Satria, with 0.1 percent share of sales in the segment, the Savvy with 0.3 percent, and Smart Fortwo with 0.4 percent.

 

Small

Toyota's earnest and redoubtable Corolla still smokes the cigars in the Small Cars segment. It holds onto top spot with 19.6 percent share of sales in the segment, but down 22.5 percent YTD. Closing fast and close behind in position two is the Mazda3 with 19.3 percent share, up 3.6 percent YTD.

Both are well clear of the Lancer in third spot, holding 11.6 percent share, up 2.1 percent YTD. In fourth, and certain to climb higher is Hyundai's i30 with 10.6 percent share of the segment, but up 101.3 percent YTD.

The Cruze has climbed to fifth spot, but Holden will have been hoping for better at just 7.7 percent segment share, ahead of the Focus with 5.5 percent but which is down 27.1 percent YTD. Golf follows on 5.2 percent, just ahead of Civic on 5.0 percent.

In this segment Kia's Soul is the big surprise in the underperformance stakes. Holding a desperately disappointing 0.1 percent sales share in the segment, there is a huge message there for Kia Australia about its pricing - like, priced all wrong maybe?

It's not alone scraping along on the bones of its bum; Volkswagen's Beetle, the Dodge Caliber, Proton Gen2, Renault Megane, and Fiat Ritmo also each hold just 0.1 percent of the segment. That would appear to be a clear sign that some soul-searching is due.

 

Medium, under $60k

Creaming them in the Medium Car segment is Toyota's Camry with 41.7 percent sales share. Although down 15.2 percent YTD, it's a long way clear of the Mazda6 in second spot with 15.5 percent market share but down 17.1 percent YTD.

Holding third is the Subaru Liberty with 9.8 percent segment share, down 33.3 percent YTD, followed by the Accord Euro with 8.2 percent share, down 6.4 percent YTD. Ford's excellent Mondeo, and surely certain to climb higher, is in fifth spot with 7.8 percent share, but down 18.7 percent YTD.

Still performing dismally is Holden's Epica with just 3.4 percent segment share and down 20.7 percent YTD.

Some excellent advertising, and savage discounting, saw the Chrysler brand recover a little in the second quarter, but has now crashed back to earth. The Chrysler Sebring secured just 0.1 percent of the segment, the Dodge Avenger, just 0.2 percent, and the PT Cruiser also just 0.2 percent.

Volvo's fortunes were equally woeful: the handsome S40 claimed just 0.5 percent of sales in the segment, the S60 also managed just 0.5 percent, the V50, just 0.4 percent, and the V70 just 0.1 percent. (And where in blazes is that overdue white knight from the East who was supposed to ride in to rescue Volvo?)

 

Medium, over $60k

In the premium medium market segment, Mercedes' C-Class is dominant with 34.7 percent market share, but down 17.9 percent YTD. Next, in position two, is the BMW 3 Series with 27.1 percent segment share, and up 4.3 percent YTD.

In third spot is the Audi A4 with 18.5 percent share, up 0.8 percent YTD, followed by the Lexus IS 250 with 12.3 percent share of sales, but down 39.2 percent YTD.

 

Large

Commodore remains the dominant force in the key Large Cars segment with 45.9 percent of sales, down 13.0 percent YTD. Falcon follows with 33.2 percent of sales in the segment, but down just 6.2 percent YTD.

A long way distant ("hello down there") is Toyota's underperforming Aurion - it is better than this - with 12.3 percent of the segment and down 34.6 percent YTD. The Accord follows with 6.0 percent segment share, down 22.2 percent.

The mover in this segment is Nissan's Maxima. Although holding just 2.4 percent of sales in the segment, it's YTD sales are up 49.4 percent.

Certain to be perplexing Hyundai is the perfectly invisible Grandeur, with just eight sales (yes, eight) and 0.1 percent share of the segment. More than just a make-over might be needed here. (Would that be the soft tapping of the grim reaper at the door...?)

So, there we have it. Any further questions?