VFACTS 2013: A Stable Market, And Why Hyundai Needs A Ute Photo:

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Tim O'Brien | Jan, 09 2014 | 8 Comments


Above: Theophilus Chin imagines a Hyundai pickup - with a little help from the Santa Fe and Ford's Ranger. More here.

For the first time ever, Australian passenger car sales in 2013 accounted for less than 50 percent of new car sales - 49.9 percent in fact.

But it’s not declining sales of large sedans and wagons dragging down sales in this segment.

Large sedans had just 5.5 percent of the market in 2012, now they have 4.6 percent market share. In terms of the total market, that’s a tiny 0.9 percent decline.

It’s matched by the same tiny decline in light cars, also down 0.9 in market share, and a slightly larger decline in medium car market share, down 1.2 percent.

Similarly, while SUV sales were up 8.5 percent (in numeric terms - total units sold in 2013 compared to 2012), their share of a growing market moved from 27.6 percent, to 29.4 percent.

In other words, in terms of total market share, SUV sales actually grew by just 1.7 percent.

And what of the small SUV sector? This one, the sector that every car maker is suddenly piling into (like Nissan Juke, Holden Trax, Ford EcoSport et al): its market share grew by just 1.1 percent.

Given that small SUVs account for only 6.6 percent of the market, growth of 1.1 percent (from 5.5 to 6.6 percent market share) is barely statistically relevant.

Right across this remarkably stable market, the shifts everywhere are minor.

In fact, what 2013 shows in terms of percentage mix (think of the market as slices of a pie-chart rather than ‘numbers’), is that not a single sector significantly cannibalised any other, much less point to any new ‘emerging trends’.

Australia's top-selling SUV, the CX-5, is only just outside the top-10 overall best sellers.
Australia's top-selling SUV, the CX-5, is only just outside the top-10 overall best sellers.

And the big swings that we witnessed when the market ‘discovered’ SUVs ten-odd years ago and families bailed out of large sedans and wagons like they were filled with piranhas and body parts, have now settled into minor shifts.

What we have now is a relatively stable, but heavily fragmented market of buyer blocks. And any fraying in the market - buyer movement between sectors - now happens at the edges.

And how much has the market fragmented? Consider this: in 2003 the Australian market recorded 909,811 sales for the year. Then, the top selling car was the Commodore, with 86,553 sales.

Now, the top selling car is the Corolla with 43,498 sales; second is the Mazda3 with 42,082 sales.

Together they account for less sales than the top selling car, the Holden Commodore, of ten years ago.

Despite what you might have read elsewhere, nothing in this saturated market is emerging as ‘the bolter’: the one that ever car maker needs in their showrooms if they want to remain relevant with buyers.

For carmakers and importers, surely, 2013 was a ‘business as usual’ year; one where those tasked with market projections and forward ordering from the factories had - or should have had - a very easy time.

Australia's top car in 2013, the new Toyota Corolla. Can it stay on top in 2014?
Australia's top car in 2013, the new Toyota Corolla. Can it stay on top in 2014?

But in this fragmented market, there are challenges for some brands: those that don’t have a model mix that aligns with the major market segments.

Toyota remains the dominant force in this market because it has the right models in each of the key market segments.

And you can look to its model mix to explain why it has held onto a twenty percent market share (plus or minus a percentage point) for the better part of 25 years and has remained least affected by an increasingly fragmented market.

In short, it’s been the smartest.

So let’s look at the top ten winners in the major market segments.


Total passenger car sales, top ten brands:

  1. Toyota: 101,553 sales for 2013
  2. Hyundai: 67,786 sales
  3. Holden: 65,729 sales
  4. Mazda: 65,128 sales
  5. Ford: 41,141 sales
  6. Volkswagen: 33,996 sales
  7. Honda: 26,748 sales
  8. Nissan: 22,551 sales
  9. Mitsubishi: 20,957 sales
  10. Kia: 20,543 sales
    (And at number 11, surprisingly, was Mercedes with 19,601 sales)

Total SUV sales, top ten brands:

  1. Toyota: 56,139 sales
  2. Nissan: 29,426 sales
  3. Subaru: 29,305 sales
  4. Mitsubishi: 25682 sales
  5. Hyundai: 25,246 sales
  6. Mazda: 24,314 sales
  7. Holden: 23,152 sales
  8. Jeep: 22,170 sales
  9. Ford: 18,304 sales
  10. Honda: 12,510 sales

Total Light Commercial Sales, top ten brands:

  1. Toyota: 56,938 sales
  2. Ford: 27,011 sales
  3. Mitsubishi: 24,889 sales
  4. Nissan: 24,756 sales
  5. Holden: 23,158 sales
  6. Mazda: 13,702 sales
  7. Volkswagen: 11,161 sales
  8. Isuzu: 10,089 sales
  9. Great Wall: 4383 sales
  10. Hyundai: 3974 sales

As these figures and the size of the light commercial vehicle sector shows, if Hyundai has ambitions of getting beyond its number four ranking in this fragmented market, it simply won’t get there without a ute and heavy-duty 4X4.

It’s such a profitable sector, here, in the Americas and South East Asia (well, unless you’re madly discounting like Mitsubishi and Nissan), you can’t imagine Hyundai will stay sitting on its hands forever.

MORE: Corolla Australia's Favourite Car In 2013

Above: Toyota's HiLux remains a huge favourite in Australia.
Above: Toyota's HiLux remains a huge favourite in Australia.

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