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2020 new car sales: MG, Great Wall and others bucking the downward trend

Ram's 1500 has proven to be a success Down Under despite market conditions, with 1123 sold so far in 2020.

Earlier today we brought you the bad news, but there are some positives to be gleamed from the gloomy market outlook.

As we discussed in our earlier analysis, 2020 has been a difficult year for the car industry, with an overall decline in sales brought on by a combination of factors - not least of which the COVID-19 pandemic.

While we looked at the brands that are having a rough time so far this year, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom. As we’re about to explain, some brands are enjoying a much more positive time, with sales actually on the increase.

We’ve poured over the May new car sales data from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries to see the brands that are doing the best job so far. Bearing in mind the industry is down 23.9 per cent across the market, anything better than that could be considered a win.

As before, in the interest of consumer relevance, we’ve focused on mainstream and volume brands that have experienced the most growth/smallest decline.

MG - up 62.5%

The ZS SUV is helping keep MG's numbers up. The ZS SUV is helping keep MG's numbers up.

In fairness, the Chinese-owned brand was starting from a relatively low base, but even so, increasing sales by more than 60 per cent when the market is in decline is impressive.

The MG3 small car is leading the charge for the brand, racking up more than 2200 sales, almost double what it managed in the same period in 2019. It’s been backed up by the new ZS SUV which has had a smaller increase (only 4.4%) but is helping keep the brand’s numbers up.

Ram - up 31%

The 1500 range has managed to compensate for the almost disappearance of the bigger 2500/3500 models. The 1500 range has managed to compensate for the almost disappearance of the bigger 2500/3500 models.

Anyone still doubting Australia’s love-affair with big, premium utes should take a look at these numbers.

The American brand - with right-hand-drive conversions carried out in Melbourne - has managed to sell 1123 units so far in 2020. The vast majority are the 1500 Express and Laramie, proving that even a starting price of more than $75k isn’t enough to turn people off these big pick-ups.

In fact, the 1500 range has managed to compensate for the almost disappearance of the bigger 2500/3500 models; with sales of those down more than 86 per cent.

Great Wall - up 19.5%

Great Wall has sold 581 Steeds. Great Wall has sold 581 Steeds.

The Chinese brand may only have a single model - the Steed - but like Ram, this is further proof Australian’s can’t get enough utes.

Unlike the big Ram 1500, the more conventional sized Steed 4x2 and 4x4 sell at a sharp price, just $19,990 drive-away, which caters to a different part of the market.

However, with only 581 Steeds sold, it must be said Great Wall is still a niche player in the local market.

Peugeot - up 0.8%

Peugeot is at least headed in the right direction on the sales charts. Peugeot is at least headed in the right direction on the sales charts.

Sales growth of less than one per cent is undoubtedly a victory for the French brand. As we discovered, sister-brand Citroen has suffered a greater than 50 per cent drop, but Peugeot is at least headed in the right direction on the sales charts.

A big part of Citroen’s loss has been Peugeot’s gain, with the two brands swapping commercial van roles in Australia. While Citroen has lost the Berlingo and Dispatch, Peugeot has added the Expert and Partner to add incremental sales growth.

The arrival of the 508 sedan and the surprising growth of the under-rated 3008 (up 9.4 per cent) have also contributed to its current position.

LDV - down 6.3%

D90 SUV sales are up more than 67 per cent on 2019. D90 SUV sales are up more than 67 per cent on 2019.

Yes, the Chinese brand has suffered a sales drop in 2020, but being down less than seven per cent is still a good result in 2020.

While 2111 sales year-to-date is still modest, it’s actually relatively close or ahead of some more high-profile brands like Land Rover (2612 sales), Skoda (2055 sales) and Renault (1827), which is a sign of steady progress for LDV.

While the T60 ute has continued to do well, tracking up 5.7 per cent year-to-date, the biggest growth has been the D90 SUV. Sales of it are up more than 67 per cent on 2019 as more buyers give LDV a chance in Australia.