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Aussie market claiming scalps but the deals won't last

Several models have disappeared from showrooms because they can't handle the competition.

Want proof the Australian new-car market is getting tough? Several models have disappeared from showrooms because they can't handle the competition.

This week alone Hyundai has dropped its budget i20 hatch (which limboed to $12,990 drive-away at one point) and is not about to replace it, and Fiat has dropped its Panda small car.

Earlier this month Ford dropped the cheapest versions of the Focus small hatch and sedan and the range now starts at $23,390 rather than $19,990.

Earlier this year Volkswagen sold the last examples of the $14,990 Up city hatch.

So why is this happening? The profit margins are so slim on these vehicles they can't compete.

The axing of these four models is a sign of just how hot the Australian new-car market has become

In the case of the Hyundai i20, the extra few hundred dollars in shipping costs to get it here from Turkey, combined with the slim margins, meant Hyundai would lose money if it imported that model's replacement.

The Panda didn't work out because the price wasn't right and Australians didn't take to the robotised manual.

The VW and Ford departures were also based on price, and transmission choices that didn't suit Australian tastes.

The axing of these four models is a sign of just how hot the Australian new-car market has become. In the sub-$60,000 bracket, we are one of the cheapest markets in the world for new vehicles.

But we can expect a few more casualties if the Aussie dollar tanks and car prices start to go up by the end of the year.

If you want to buy a new car at the bargain end of the market, I wouldn't be waiting too long.