“Suits in utes”, the mining boom and record-high personal savings are driving a new-car sales race never seen before – Toyota and Mazda are the new Holden v Ford.
Preliminary figures for October show the Toyota HiLux workhorse beat the Mazda3 small car for the sixth time this year by the narrowest margin to date, just 62 sales.
The pair have been locked in a ding-dong battle swapping the monthly sales lead three times – but the HiLux has never headed the Mazda3 in the year-to-date tally. “It’s too close to call,” said the managing director of Mazda Australia, Doug Dickson.
Ending the Holden Commodore’s record 15-year dominance, the Mazda3 was Australia’s best-selling car last year – the first imported vehicle to top the charts since World War I and the first Japanese car ever.
Mazda didn’t advertise its victory for fear of a buyer backlash and insists it will not cut prices to win the title for the second year in a row. “We’re not going to do anything silly, the results will be what the results will be,” Dickson said. “There is money out there, with personal savings at new highs. It’s just a matter of prising the lid open on that.”
Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing, Matthew Callachor, believes the Mazda3 will topple the HiLux. “I don’t think we can get the production at this moment to get to number one [selling vehicle],” Callachor said.
Tony Robinson, group executive of fleet services company Innovation Group, says it’s not only the mining sector driving HiLux sales. “This is more than just the mining boom,” Robinson said. “The HiLux has a strong cult following in the trades and with younger buyers, but also a new group the marketing types like to refer to as ‘suits in utes’. These are white-collar workers who use a ute during the week but on weekends put a surfboard or the kids’ bikes in the back.”
Robinson said new flexible leasing conditions gave company-car drivers the freedom to choose any vehicle within their budget. “People aren’t choosing the same company cars their mum and dads used to choose,” he said. “They’re buying vehicles that suit their needs and their lifestyle.”
Utility vehicles filled three of the top 10 positions in October. Holden’s Colorado pick-up was 11th. In another major upset, the Toyota Camry outsold the Holden Commodore for only the second time ever; the first time was January 1995.
And the Hyundai i30 outsold the Commodore for the third time this year. Meanwhile the Ford Falcon, the last car to beat the Commodore before the Mazda3 came along, continued to rank well outside the top 10.
TOP SELLING CARS: OCTOBER 2012
Toyota HiLux ute 3404
Toyota Camry 3379
Toyota Corolla 2978
Hyundai i30 2898
Holden Commodore 2449
Volkswagen Golf 2436
Holden Cruze 2251
Ford Ranger ute 2126
Nissan Navara ute 2123
Holden Colorado 2082
Preliminary sales figures. Official data released 5.10.12