According to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), new vehicle sales reached a total of 99,442 vehicles during March.
This represents a decrease of 7,546 vehicles sales, or 7.1 per cent, on the same period in 2018.
For the first time, three light-commercial vehicles – Toyota’s HiLux (4527 sales), Ford’s Ranger (3721) and Mitsubishi’s Triton (2666) reigned on top of the sales chart.
Utes reign at the top
The lacklustre result arrives against the backdrop of the Federal budget and a looming Federal election, compounding softening housing prices and a dip in consumer confidence.
But for Mitsubishi -- which placed second and outsold Mazda (albeit by 25 units) in a month for the first time ever -- the last month of the Japanese financial year brought more than 10,000 sales for only the second time in history, since June 2018.
Mitsubishi’s boom sales came despite a dearth of regular passenger cars. The soon-to-be-axed Mitsubishi Lancer secured just 450 sales -- 80 per cent more than in March 2018 -- and its only other passenger model, the Mirage, was 70 per cent up at just 85 sales.
Elsewhere, Toyota consolidated its place at the top despite an 8.4 per cent decrease in March sales. The HiLux continued its reign as Australia’s number one seller (4525), contributing solid numbers alongside the Corolla (2500), Prado (1665) and LandCruiser (1455).
Kia – the only other top-10 brand to increase its sales last month - looks set to celebrate a small win in March, with a 4.3 per cent uplift in sales on the back of strong Cerato sales.
Japanese brands Subaru (-42%), Honda (-22.5%) and Nissan (-17.5%) all had a tough month, while Holden also slid (-25%).
Volkswagen retained the eighth position in terms of market share despite a fall of 9 per cent. Its Golf small car (1360), Tiguan (835) and Amarok ute (850) held the fort while the German car-maker awaits more SUVs; namely the new Touareg, T-Roc and T-Cross.
Tony Weber, chief executive of the FCAI, said that current economic conditions had contributed to the market’s position.
”We are seeing a cautious consumer approach at the moment, and this is not surprising given the number of economic headwinds in the Australian market,” Weber said.
Top 10 models - March 2019
1 Toyota HiLux 4527
2 Ford Ranger 3721
3 Mistubishi Triton 2666
4 Mazda3 2642
5 Toyota Corolla 2499
6 Mazda CX-5 2414
7 Hyundai i30 2402
8 Mitsubishi ASX 2236
9 Mitsubishi Outlander 2067
10 Kia Cerato 1873
Top 10 brands - March 2019
1 Toyota 17,298
2 Mitsubishi 10,135
3 Mazda 9618
4 Hyundai 7731
5 Ford 6160
6 Kia 5303
7 Nissan 5115
8 Volkswagen 4682
9 Honda 4335
10 Holden 3833