In a promising start to the year for new car sales, it is business as usual at the very top of the bull-pit.
Toyota, despite coming off a difficult year of disrupted supply following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and severe flooding in Thailand, has held comfortably onto number one position with more than 14,000 sales for the month.
This performance came despite supply problems resulting in fewer than 1100 HiLux sales in January, barely a third of normal sales.
With a near 5000 gap over its nearest rival, Toyota is pretty much unassailable up there… for the immediate future, that is.
Below it, there’s a right old melee of kicking and gouging and biting going on. Holden, bloodied but unbowed, is still holding onto second place with 9061 total sales.
The Cruze has moved into third position in passenger car sales, notching up 2445 sales in January and beating the Commodore for the first time, which, with 2170 sales, has slid from second position to fourth overall.
Mazda, rampant, has claimed third place with 8479 sales for the month, up 17.8 percent on last January. At that rate of growth, it will soon be snapping at Holden’s heels in the tussle for the minor placings.
But don’t count Holden out. With the Cruze gathering momentum, and Holden refocusing its business model for growth in the domestic market, there’ll be blood on the carpet before Holden relinquishes its place on the podium.
Mazda however can’t seem to do much wrong for the moment. The Mazda3, with 4045 sales for January, is top of the pile in small cars and Australia’s top selling car overall.
Hyundai meanwhile has slotted into fourth place with 6513 sales for January – doing well, but up just 1.6 percent and not the juggernaut flattening all before it that we’ve watched over the past three years.
It gets tougher ‘dookin’ it out’ at the pointy end of things and Hyundai’s performance in the small and light car sectors has slowed a little.
Does it have too many models? You have to wonder - it’s getting harder to work out who’s who in the zoo in Hyundai showrooms.
In fifth place, and with the tide seemingly running against it, is Ford with 5838 passenger car sales.
The brilliant new Focus is doing well (1576 sales, up 49.1 percent), but the Territory, with 804 sales, and Falcon with 931 sales (and down 19.5 percent) - arguably two of the best large cars on the market - seem to be running out of momentum.
With such a strong showroom, Ford Australia must be scratching its head.
Top 5 Australian passenger cars January 2012:
- Mazda3: 4045 sales
- Toyota Corolla: 3383 sales
- Holden Cruze: 2445 sales
- Holden Commodore: 2170 sales
- Hyundai i30: 1986 sales.
And how’s that? Four of the top five best selling passenger cars in Australia are small cars - from a segment down 0.4 percent.
Here’s something else to think about: if you had any doubt that ‘quality, reliability and resale value’ was a key driver for car buyers, have a look at Toyota.
The company that arguably concerns itself least with design finesse, sits astride the Australian market like a colossus.
- Tim O'Brien
TMR Managing Editor