I met Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the AFL Grand Final on Saturday. There was a crush near a door (I was in the ‘members’), and I pushed past without looking.
I then realised I was pushing past the new Prime Minister of the land. “Why, Mr Prime Minister,” I said, holding out my hand, “I’m Tim O’Brien.”
“Pleased to meet you Tim O’Brien,” he said graciously, accepting my handshake.
What a great country this is. There was a not a security goon in sight, though he did find himself unexpectedly shaking hands with a nong.
On this auspicious week then, we have now learned that car sales are motoring along at a fair old clip, that middle Australia is not too depressed about things to just want to sit at home and stare at the wall, and that the Australian economy is, ipso facto, “doing alright”.
And that, as a self-appointed representative of Joe Average in that chance encounter with Citizen One, I didn’t feel I had to suppress a sudden and overwhelming urge to want to snot him on behalf of all the Joe Averages I was at that moment representing (unlike the recently unfriended bag of roosters previously running the show).
So yes, in this great country where nongs mix with Prime Ministers at sporting events, car sales are just hunky-dory at the moment – stable, growing and ‘on track’.
The ‘ladder’ in the new car sales race is similarly stable.
Toyota on top, natch, but with the pack another yard closer, Mazda closing on 10.7 percent share for September, and Hyundai and Holden – both locked on 9.2 percent market share - still duking it out for the minor placing on the podium. Holden, this month, sneaking just ahead of Hyundai.
Here are the top ten brands:
But just outside that Top Ten, on 3.3 percent of the market, is the surging Mercedes Benz with 3381 sales, now with air behind it to BMW on 2408 sales (2.4 percent) and Audi on 2048 sales and 2.0 percent market share.
In all, with just 15 days of vehicle sales in the ‘post-unpleasantness’ 2015 political period, the new Prime Minister can hardly take the credit for sales being up, though consumer confidence, the indicators tell us, is suddenly in the ascendant. (Much of the country, I’d suspect, may be feeling a little like they have woken up after a particularly nasty nightmare. “So it was all just a bad dream…”)
Corolla retains the crown for sales year-to-date, 31,903 sales, over Mazda3’s 29,513 sales, but it will be a close run race.
(The fluctuating sales performance of the i30 occasionally has us wondering – “are we talking ridgi-didge sales or registrations here Hyundai?”). But all three, Corolla, 3 and i30 are very good cars and good buying – the Mazda packaging in perhaps a little more zest and character.
But, with the new VF II launch imminent – we’re driving it today – Commodore will likely turn the tables next month. Or not.
Here then is the Top Ten vehicle sales for September as provided by the FCAI:
EV, PHEV and Hybrid Sales
Lastly, here’s a thought.
If, in your line of business, you knew of a product that was showing triple digit growth year-on-year, and showing no sign of abating, you would want to be part of that action wouldn’t you?
Because this niche market is rapidly finding its legs.
Electric, hybrid and PHEV vehicles notched up 1088 sales last month. More than the total sales of Land Rover (1007 sales, including Range Rover); more than Renault (also 1007 sales), and around half the total sales of Audi, 2048 sales.
More than one thousand units in the month is not insignificant. With numbers like that, and with sales on a J-curve, there is a potential to be profitable.
This segment then is no mere blip on the radar. It’s becoming ‘a recognisable block’ in monthly vehicle sales data, and, in the case of hybrid SUVs, is showing triple digit growth in both private and non-private sales (up 298 percent YTD and up 117 percent YTD).
Passenger EV and Hybrid sales, which make up the greater part of the sales volume, are down marginally on the month, but hybrid SUVs are prising the door into the market open.
Maybe, with diesel now ‘on the nose’ as an environmental fuel, with increasing EV infrastructure (but not that there’s much out there) and a lot of discussion about battery-powered storage solutions, it’s time more manufacturers got onto the electric bandwagon.
With Toyota's Camry Hybrid and Prius having paved the way (that Camry is very good value) and Nissan’s hybrid Pathfinder, the Lexus RX hybrid and Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV finding a niche in the SUV segment, maybe it is an idea whose time has come. We certainly like the way this new breed of EV and hybrid vehicles drive.
My new mate Malcolm Turnbull would also seem to be more interested in such things. Who knows; are we at last, finally, poised on a new dawn for hybrid electric vehicles?
(And what a great country this is.)
TMR Managing Editor