Tim O'Brien | Mar 6, 2014


With its best February on record, Mazda Australia has moved into number two spot in the Australian market behind Toyota.

Significantly, it is now - for the first time ever - into double figures for market share, holding 11.0 percent of the Australian market year-to-date (YTD) and 10.6 percent for February.

For this 'smaller than the average bear' Japanese manufacturer, in a total market that is down 3.8 percent for the month and 3.7 percent year to date, that is a remarkable performance.

It also underscores the anomaly that is the Australian market for 'Toyo Kogyo', Mazda Motor Corporation, and its global footprint.

In no other market anywhere is Mazda such a force.

But Australian buyers like and respect Mazda products. From the Mazda2 to the CX-5, they have a dynamism and feel that is more-typically European, but with the suspension travel, comfort and reliability that suits Australia's harsher, and harder, road conditions.

The CX-5, with 1752 sales last month and 3,605 sales year-to-date is the country's top-selling SUV. The BT-50 pickup, with 1248 February sales also performed strongly, just pipping the Mazda2 with 1242 sales.


Jack and the bean-stalk

It is almost unthinkable, but little Mazda is in hot pursuit of giant Toyota, and now, while not yet snapping at the heels, is at least in the same straight as its adversary.

Mazda, with a vastly smaller range, has sold 18,582 cars for January and February (up 5.3 percent). Toyota dealers, with a far larger model range sitting across many more segments, sold 29,846 vehicles for the same period (up, but just slightly, an improvement of 1.5 percent on 2013).

Toyota's lead and 2014 tally is placing it in line for a 12th consecutive year as Australia's best-selling automotive brand.

But, at 17.6 percent market share for this year - a 6.6 percent gap over Mazda, and narrowing - it may be slowly losing its grip on the 20 percent (plus or minus) market share it has enjoyed for the better part of 25 years.

'May be', of course, are the operative words there.

Toyota has a number of cars in its current line-up becoming due for replacement, the segment-leading HiLux among them (with 3348 sales in February).

And, with a new Kluger coming next week, it will soon have some fresh ammunition in its armoury.

Holden, perhaps a little surprisingly, although displaced by Mazda for second place by the barest of margins, has managed to hold onto its market share (up from 9.4 percent YTD 2013, to 10.4 percent YTD 2014), ditto Ford at 7.7 percent YTD, down a marginal 0.41 percent.


Blood on the tracks

It is in the minor placings where things are getting interesting. Both Nissan and Mitsubishi are flagging, level-pegging on 5.2 percent market share YTD (nearly exactly half Mazda's 11.0 percent YTD, and down from 8.8 percent last year, Nissan, and from 6.0 percent, Mitsubishi).

In both Nissan and Mitsubishi's case, it's the light commercial sector that's knocking them about.

Sales of the ageing Navara, and the equally-aged Triton, have nose-dived. The Navara 4X4 is down 49.5 percent YTD, the Navara 4X2 down 61.2 percent.

For the Triton, the story is a little more mixed: down 40.2 percent for the volume-selling 4X4, but up 34.2 for the lesser 4X2.

What's happening in this segment is that the HiLux is holding its own with a dominant 3348 sales, but the Ranger is gathering pace with 1901 sales; so too the Colorado with 1471 sales for February and BT-50 with 1248 sales.

These Johnny-come-latelies are not troubling HiLux greatly, but taking great chunks out of the market share of the once-powerful Navara and steady Triton.

Top Ten sales for light commercial vehicles for February 2014 (combining 4X4 and 4X2 sales)

  1. Toyota HiLux: 3348 sales
  2. Ford Ranger: 1901 sales
  3. Holden Colorado: 1471 sales
  4. Nissan Navara: 1264 sales
  5. Mazda BT-50: 1248 sales
  6. Mitsubishi Triton: 1227 sales
  7. Isuzu D-Max: 797 sales
  8. VW Amarok: 623 sales
  9. Landcruiser ute: 590 sales
  10. Great Wall V200: 150 sales

Believe it or not, something we thought we might never see, but both Volkswagen Amarok and Landcruiser Ute beat Holden Ute, 458 sales, and Falcon Ute, 232 sales. We live in unusual times.

Also interesting is that Ford Ranger with 1901 sales - Ford Australia's top-selling car - outsold the combined total of Falcon and Territory, 549 sales and 789 respectively, and also outsold Focus, 1355 sales.

Who would ever have thunk that?

Top Ten selling vehicles for February 2014

  1. Mazda3: 3969 sales
  2. Toyota HiLux: 3348 sales
  3. Toyota Corolla: 3332 sales
  4. Holden Commodore: 2777 sales.
  5. Hyundai i30: 2372 sales
  6. Ford Ranger: 1901 sales
  7. Toyota Camry: 1891 sales
  8. Volkswagen Golf: 1780 sales
  9. Mazda CX-5: 1752 sales
  10. Toyota RAV4: 1614 sales

Where's the Cruze? Down a few more places with 1433 sales, alongside Ford's excellent Focus with less, 1355 sales.

(It has to be asked: does Ford know how to market a strong product portfolio? Update: Ford has today confirmed a commitment to a great focus on marketing.)

The most interesting remaining observations is that the Malibu is a disaster for Holden with 115 sales (cobwebs are growing over the scorer there), and - astonishingly - we have a Jeep pressing for entry to the top ten.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is now outselling the Prado by a comfortable margin and, with 1370 sales in February and 46 percent growth in sales YTD, it's going to gatecrash the top ten in a month or three.

Something else we'd never have thunk.

Tim O'Brien
TMR Managing Editor


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