Tim O'Brien | Jun 4, 2010

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VFACTS vehicle sales results, provided by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) are in for May. Commodore has retained the top-spot in vehicle sales but Ford remains Australia’s top-selling local manufacturer in this market.

For May, Ford Australia sold 5179 Falcons, utes and Territory into the Australian market, up 6.6 percent against May 2009; Holden sold 5057 Commodores, utes, Statesman and Caprice, down 0.6 percent against the same period.

In this, there is no change on the April ranking, where Ford also held top spot with 4642 sales over Holden’s 4139.

Our other local manufacturer, Toyota, was a distant third for May with 2956 sales into the Australian market, but up 9.5 percent.

Interestingly Falcon has been the big improver in the large car segment. Falcon’s 3258 sales, up 14.5 percent, show a strong gain on the Commodore’s 3899 sales – up 5.9 percent.

Ford would also be pleased with the performance of its locally-built Territory which is raining on Kluger’s parade. Ford sold 1056 of its Territory for May, up 9.9 percent, against the Kluger’s 1036, down 1.2 percent.

Holden’s imported Captiva is the big improver in the medium SUV segment however, up 101.3 percent with 1411 sales and closing on Toyota’s dominant warrior, the Prado with 1575 sales, up 52.6 percent against the same period last year.

Just for the record, following are the top twelve results for passenger car sales (excluding light commercials, utes, vans etc.).

You will note how poorly Nissan is performing in total numbers in passenger sales, although it is up 44.8 percent. It would be in no-man’s land in this market without the Navara powering along.

You will also note how sharp pricing, and a strong sales campaign, has assisted Mitsubishi.

 

Passenger vehicle sales for May 2009

  1. Toyota - 8119 sales - up 11.2 percent
  2. Holden - 7659 sales - up 29.4 percent
  3. Ford - 5299 sales - up 7.9 percent
  4. Mazda - 5001 sales - up 5.1 percent
  5. Hyundai - 4783 sales - up 26.2 percent
  6. Honda - 2920 sales - up 5.6 percent
  7. Mitsubishi - 2505 sales - up 85.4 percent
  8. Volkswagen - 2365 sales - up 44.8 percent
  9. Subaru - 2012 sales - up 58.7 percent
  10. Suzuki - 1799 sales - up 29.1 percent
  11. Kia - 1551 sales up - 11.2 percent
  12. Nissan - 1292 sales - up 44.8 percent

Sales figures for May, although slowing in percentage terms, are up 18.3 percent against May 2009 and would indicate a reasonably healthy market.

But while the market is up and on track to hit the magic million sales for 2010, there are some nagging warning signs in the breakdown of those figures between private, Government and business buyers.

One warning sign for the Government – and for Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens – is in business vehicle purchases. In passenger car sales, they are up just 4.2 percent for May compared to an increase of 44.8 percent for April.

And it’s not just in percentage terms that things look a little alarming. Compare May’s 15,682 passenger car sales to the business sector with April’s 18,660 sales.

Sales of SUVs to the business sector are also down compared to April. This month business bought 8161 SUVs; last month it bought 8376. Sales in April were up 50.8 percent; they are up just 17.5 percent this month.

It is not yet indicating a stalling market, but there are danger signs here.

While much is made in the ‘fluff media’ of consumer sentiment and private consumption, the real health of an economy is indicated in what is happening in ‘the business economy’: in business-to-business sales, in capital purchases and in investment.

And while it might be argued that business sales are down because of the pull-forward effect of the stimulus package last year – businesses bringing their purchasing forward to take advantage of the tax concession – the performance of the market in March and April would indicate that this is no longer a factor.

The message in this is clear: it’s time for Glenn Stevens to take his hand off the interest rate brakes.

-- Tim O'Brien

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