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Trevor Collett | Jan 6, 2016

The dust has settled, the numbers are in, and all-new 2015 models are now ‘last year’s cars’.

And what a year it was for new car sales, with VFACTS revealing the market set another new record of 1,155,408 sales for new passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles.

The market was well on track to break the previous record (set in 2013 at 1,136,227 sales) at the end of November, and a solid December - which saw sales up 2.9 percent on the same month last year - sealed the deal.

Overall sales were also up 3.8 percent on 2014, and up 1.7 percent on 2013.

June and December can sometimes upset the sales ‘status quo’ owing to incentives and promotions for the end of financial and calendar years. Last month fit the bill, with Toyota’s Camry seemingly coming from nowhere to top the charts.

In fact, not only did the Camry win the sales race for December 2015, it was a mile ahead of its nearest rival in the usual sales-topper: Toyota’s Corolla.

So how to explain the sudden explosion in demand for the midsized Toyota sedan?

Carmakers have, at times, been accused of stuffing dealerships with demonstrators. In other words, using a mass registration of demonstrator vehicles to artificially boost sales figures to give a particular model a month in the spotlight.

Speaking with TMR, Toyota Australia’s Tony Cramb said the spike in demand was a combined result of dealer incentives, finance offers and general promotion for the Camry.

“We did not stuff vehicles into our dealers,” Mr Cramb said. “We will not do that, ever.”

Top 10 Selling Brands - December 2015

  1. Toyota - 21,217 sales (up 11.6 percent)
  2. Mazda - 9708 (up 11.2 percent)
  3. Holden - 9146 (up 18 percent)
  4. Mitsubishi - 7500 (up 0.8 percent)
  5. Hyundai - 7159 (down 6.5 percent)
  6. Ford - 6290 (up 6.0 percent)
  7. Nissan - 5012 (down 14.6 percent)
  8. Volkswagen - 4458 (down 1.8 percent)
  9. Subaru - 3609 (up 5.2 percent)
  10. Honda - 3318 (down 11.7 percent)

Top 10 Selling Models - December 2015

  1. Toyota Camry - 5321 (27,654 sales for 2015)
  2. Toyota Corolla - 3469 (42,073)
  3. Mazda3 - 3445 (38,644)
  4. Toyota HiLux - 3133 (35,161)
  5. Ford Ranger - 2836 (29,185)
  6. Holden Commodore - 2622 (27,770)
  7. Mitsubishi Triton - 2134 (25,338)
  8. Mitsubishi ASX - 2066 (13,557)
  9. Hyundai i30 - 1999 (32,306)
  10. Mazda CX-5 - 1917 (25,136)

Another to raise eyebrows in December was Mitsubishi’s ASX SUV in eighth place, although this isn’t the first time the compact SUV has broken into the top-ten.

The ASX was joined by the Mazda CX-5, Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton in the top-ten, capping a year where SUVs and light commercials were the preferred choice over ‘regular’ passenger vehicles.

Despite the success of Toyota’s Corolla and the Mazda3 in the small car class, the passenger car market was the only category to see sales fall last year with figures down three percent on 2014.

The Corolla was Australia’s top-selling car for 2015 on 42,076 sales, followed by the ‘3’ with 38,644. The Camry along with Holden’s Commodore, the Volkswagen Golf and Hyundai’s i30 were the other passenger car regulars in the top-ten throughout 2015.

SUVs were the standout performer in 2015. Sales were up 15.9 percent on 2014 with small and midsized models showing the strongest growth.

For the compact class, it was a five-way battle for sales supremacy for most of the year between the Honda HR-V, Nissan Qashqai, Mitsubishi ASX, Mazda CX-3 and Hyundai’s ix35.

The ix35 was replaced by the Tucson during the year which saw the model (rightly) step up to the medium class, but the ix35 had already done enough to win the small SUV sales race for 2015 on 15,227 units.

Even the premium (over $40,000) small SUV class was firing, with the Audi Q3 outselling its direct rivals on 3445 units along with a host of its more-affordable peers.

Mazda’s CX-5 was a consistent overall top-ten performer last year, as mentioned, and it easily won the midsized SUV sales race for 2015 on 25,136 units.

Second in class for sales was the Toyota RAV4, while the Nissan X-Trail, Subaru Forester and Mitsubishi Outlander were the other strong performers.

Of the passenger car classes, the friendless micro-car segment in 2014 continued that way for all of 2015 with sales down 32.3 percent on already-worrying figures from the previous year.

The Corolla and Mazda3 weren’t enough to arrest a slide in small car sales, down 7.6 percent, and the large, upper-large and sports car categories were also down on 2014.

People-movers bucked the trend - up 16.9 percent on 2014 - and so too did light and medium passenger cars, with sales up 3.1 and 12.6 percent respectively.

And finally, here’s some of the other 2015 figures that could easily be missed:

Ferrari sold 167 cars in Australia last year, Bentley sold 158, Aston Martin sold 130 and Maserati sold 519. Impressive figures for those carmakers, perhaps, but they’re arguably less impressive than the whopping 84 units Lamborghini managed to sell (up 211 percent on 2014).

For various reasons, usually involving decisions made well away from the dealerships, Alfa Romeo, Great Wall, Chery, Fiat, Proton and Chrysler all saw sales plummet in 2015.

Of the three new family 4WDs to enter the large SUV market in the latter stages of 2015, it’s the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport that has taken early bragging rights over its Ford Everest and Toyota Fortuner rivals.

The Pajero Sport managed 496 sales in its first full month on the market, with the Everest and Fortuner selling 351 and 361 units respectively. All were dwarfed by the Toyota Prado last month on 1368 sales, but it’s early days for the trio.

Volkswagen sales were down 1.9 percent for December on the same month last year, but overall sales for 2015 are up 9.9 percent.

Skoda (up 15.2 percent in December and 23.3 percent for 2015) and Audi (up 27.6 percent in December and 20.1 percent for 2015) appear to have dodged the sales bullet from the diesel emissions scandal, at least for now.

The year ahead may or may not tell a different story for Volkswagen as the fallout from dieselgate continues, but given the ‘24-hour news cycle’ to which the world has partly become accustomed, buyers may already be willing to forgive and forget.

Volkswagen’s sales figures at this time next year will certainly make for interesting reading. Stay tuned to TMR as we track the sales performances of all in the industry throughout 2016.

MORE News & Reviews: VFACTS | Toyota | Corolla | SUVs

Top 10 Selling Brands - 2015

  1. Toyota - 206,236 sales (up 1.3 percent)
  2. Mazda - 114,024 (up 13.2 percent)
  3. Holden - 102,951 (down 3.0 percent)
  4. Hyundai - 102,004 (up 2.0 percent)
  5. Mitsubishi - 71,743 (up 4.5 percent)
  6. Ford - 70,454 (down 11.6 percent)
  7. Nissan - 66,062 (up 0.1 percent)
  8. Volkswagen - 60,225 (up 9.9 percent)
  9. Subaru - 43,600 (up 7.6 percent)
  10. Honda - 40,100 (up 21.5 percent)

Top 10 Selling Models - 2015

  1. Toyota Corolla - 42,073 sales
  2. Mazda3 - 38,644
  3. Toyota HiLux - 35,161
  4. Hyundai i30 - 32,306
  5. Ford Ranger - 29,185
  6. Holden Commodore - 27.770
  7. Toyota Camry - 27,654
  8. Mitsubishi Triton - 25,338
  9. Mazda CX-5 - 25,136
  10. Volkswagen Golf - 22,092
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