VFACTS April 2018: SUVs continue to march on

The sales of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) continued to provide strong momentum to Australia’s new car market last month.

April 2018 VFCATS review

The sales of SUVs continued to deliver strong momentum to Australia’s new car market last month, with total April sales down slightly on last year but year-to-date sales running 3.3 percent ahead of 2017.

Total industry sales for April were 82,930, which is 0.2 percent down on the same month last year, according to data released today by the industry’s official statistical service VFACTS.

However, the year-to-date total across the industry of 374,468 sales is viewed as a strong return, bolstered by the continued build in the SUV and light commercial (LC) vehicle categories.

SUVs accounted for 43.6 percent of the April market, passenger cars for 33.2 percent and light commercial vehicles 19.4 percent.

No slowing SUV sales

Among the segments, SUVs were the stand out performers. Comparing last month with April 2017, the sale of small SUVs rose 33.3 percent, medium SUVs climbed 12.8 percent, large SUVs lifted 3.7 percent and upper large SUVs surged 20.6 percent.

SUV sales to private and business customers showed strong April gains, up 15.3 per cent and 17.5 per cent respectively. Private light commercial sales dipped by 13.6 percent, while light commercial business sales fell 3.6 percent during April

Among the passenger car segments, micro-cars had another good month with a sales gain of 8.6 percent.

The steady performance of the national April market came despite NSW, historically Australia’s largest state for sales, showing a fall in the monthly volume of 5.5 percent. However, four states and territories produced gains with Western Australia climbing 7.3 percent, South Australia up by 3.5 percent, Victoria by 2.1 percent and Queensland by 1.9 percent.

Industry comment

The Chief Executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Tony Weber, said that although April was the first month of 2018 in which the industry had not bettered its results of last year, the industry was tracking strongly.

“There’s good reason to be confident about how sales nationally are tracking given we are a third of the way through the calendar year,” Mr Weber said.

“The market dynamic has changed with the growth of SUVs but brands have adapted quickly to that change and the new products coming into those growth segments clearly have strong consumer appeal.”

The Toyota Hilux light commercial was the top-seller during April with 3,596 sales, followed by the Toyota Corolla with 2,979, then the Ford Ranger (2,796), Mazda3 (2,261) and the Toyota LandCruiser (2,018).

Toyota on top again

Toyota was the April market leader with a 20.1 percent share, followed by Mazda (9.3 percent), Hyundai (8.6%), Mitsubishi (6.6%) and Ford (5.8%).

But while Toyota sales lifted by 3.5 percent to 16,647, Mazda’s slumped by 10.5 percent to 7723 following sales declines by all models but the BT-50 4×4.

Less than 600 sales behind in third was Hyundai, which was up 4.1 percent despite its volume-selling i30 falling 3.8 percent to just over 1900 sales.

After its stellar rise to third overall in March, Mitsubishi remained solid in fourth with more than 5500 sales, the ASX topping the small SUV segment for the month and year, and the Eclipse Cross adding incremental sales.

After Holden, fifth-placed Ford was the biggest loser in April with a near-17% sales decline to 4822 sales, followed by Holden, Kia, Subaru, Volkswagen and Nissan – the only other top-10 brand to go backwards in April, by 9.6 per cent.

Source: FCAI