... now it means buying cars from almost anywhere else. Sales figures for January released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries reveal that Australian-made vehicles were a poor fourth in terms of buyer preference.
While we have long favoured imports from Japan, last month more buyers bought cars from Korea and Thailand in preference to those made manufactured in Melbourne and Adelaide. In fifth position, German imports recorded one of their best-ever sales months. With the tariff having been reduced from 10 to five per cent, importers are sharpening their prices, posing a still more acute threat to the locals.
Last month 26,311 vehicles from Japan sold in Australia; 13,130 from Korea; 10,777 from Thailand; 9741 locally made and 6066 from Germany. While not the worst-ever numerical return in a month for Australian-made, fourth is an ordinary result for the local industry which the federal Government assists to the tune of $6.2 billion.
While Holden can claim the Commodore was January's best-selling model on 3241 and Ford can point to an improved performance from the Falcon compared with January 2009, both models are hugely reliant on bargain sales to fleets rather than more profitable private sales. Moreover, Holden's other bestsellers -- such as the Cruze, Barina and the Captiva -- are made in South Korea and re-badged for local buyers.
Toyota, which makes the Camry sedan in Melbourne, was on top in the January monthly market with 14,564 vehicle sales, ahead of Holden with 10,468 and Ford on 6730. Mazda, was the fourth most popular car maker on 6658. Hyundai, with 6208, was fifth.
Although they were several thousand behind the locals, sales of German imports are only going north, with a 78 per cent increase on January, 2009. While the prestige brand Audi recorded a record 1328 sales, the impetus was due largely to manufacture of the Carsguide Car of the Year-winning Volkswagen Golf moving from South Africa to Germany, where its derivative Tiguan soft-roader is also made.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
Vehicle sales figures for January
26,311 ... Japan
13,130 ... Korea
10,777 ... Thailand
9,741 ..... Australia
6,066 ..... Germany