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2019 new-car sales: The biggest losers

Last year was one that many brands will be keen to put behind them - 2019 was tough for plenty of car companies.

The 2019 new cars sales figures have been announced, and it’s fair to say that the entire Australian market was one of the biggest losers of last year.

Overall sales slumped 7.8 per cent on the preceding year’s figures, with a total of 1,062,867 vehicles sold in 2019 being the lowest posted figure since 2011.

That’s one part of the story, but let’s take a look at some of other notable losers based on the 2019 sales data.

We’re going to address all the brands that dropped by 20 per cent or more in this list, but a few other marques had a tough year in 2019, like Audi (-19.1 per cent to 15,708 sales), Honda (-14.9 per cent to 43,176 sales), Nissan (-12.3 per cent to 50,575 sales) Mazda (-12.3 per cent to 97,619 sales), Land Rover (-12.0 per cent to 8879 sales), Jaguar (-15.1 per cent to 2274 sales). Fiat (-19.9 per cent) and Citroen (-19.0 per cent) also struggled.

Anyway, on with the list!

Alfa Romeo - down 30.3 per cent

If there’s a saving grace for Alfa Romeo, it’s that this was a big drop but from a small base. The Alfa Romeo range continues to struggle to find a foothold in Australia, with 2019 seeing just 891 vehicles sold.

That’s down from 1279 in 2018. And that’s despite 2019 being the first full year the Stelvio SUV was on sale here.

While the Stelvio did outrun its sales figure from the previous year (390 sales vs 347), and the now axed 4C also had a good year (but still only amassed 29 sales), it’s clear this brand is in trouble.

Holden - down 28.9 per cent

Holden’s sales were the lowest in the company’s history in 2019. There were new record lows on six occasions in 2019 for Holden, with November marking the lowest-ever monthly sales tally for the brand in its 71-year history in Australia.

Holden’s tally of 43,176 vehicles in 2019 still saw it finish in the top 10 (only just - it came tenth behind the likes of Honda and VW), with standout performers including the Acadia large SUV and Trailblazer off-road SUV.

But, for a bit of context, Toyota sold more HiLuxes than Holden sold total vehicles (47,649). And for those who still buy into the whole Holden vs Ford argument, the Ranger was perilously close to eclipsing Holden’s entire sales figure (40,960).

In December Holden announced it was axing the Commodore and Astra models. It’s now a purely SUV and ute importer company - and given that Commodore and Astra still accounted for about a quarter of all sales in 2019 for Holden, 2020 could be an even more challenging year once again for the General Motors-owned company.

Maserati - down 24.9 per cent

Italian brands really are taking a hit in Australia. Maserati managed just 482 sales in 2019, down from 642 units the year before.

All models in the Maserati range dropped compared to the year before - even the Levante SUV, which saw the introduction of a V8 engine late in 2019.

Jeep - down 24.7 per cent

Jeep had a horror year in 2019. Sales tanked across all models except the all-new Wrangler, which was the company’s second-biggest selling model last year.

The Cherokee, Compass, Renegade and Grand Cherokee all dropped off big time in 2019, and the brand’s total sales was just 5519 units - down from 7326 in 2018 and a shadow of the former glory days. Now people are saying “They bought a Jeep?” for different reasons.

Aston Martin - down 22.8 per cent

Selling high-end luxury vehicles in a very tough market never going to be easy, but given how new the DB11 is we’re sure Aston Martin would have been expecting better of its Aussie operations.

The British brand sold just 129 vehicles in 2019, down from 167 in 2018. Maybe with the next Bond film coming out in 2020, the company will indeed be hoping it’s No Time to Die.

Subaru - down 20.0 per cent

An all-new Forester should have seen Subaru do better in 2019 than it did. The company was down a fifth of its sales compared to 2018, with the BRZ, Impreza, Levorg, Liberty, Outback, WRX and XV all down.

The Forester did pretty well, up 21.4 per cent year-on-year. But the Japanese company will no doubt try to arrest the slump in 2020 - an updated Impreza and hybrid models for the XV and Forester ranges should help.