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Holden Commodore sales surge, but still outside Top Three

50,000th VF Commodore.

THE Holden Commodore has made a surprising recovery in the March sales race with a staggering 85 per cent sales increase compared with the same month the prior year -- narrowly missing a place on the podium as the nation’s fourth most popular car.

Official figures released today show it was the Commodore’s third-best monthly sales tally since the new VF model went on sale 10 months ago, as the Holden brand overall posted a 19 per cent sales surge -- the strongest growth of any Top 10 brand and the seventh month in a row it has outpaced the market.

However, the sharp percentage increases are largely due to the Commodore posting its second-lowest monthly result ever in March last year (1606 sales). The Commodore’s tally for March this year of 2967 sales is still down compared with the 2012 figure of about 3200 deliveries.

But the Commodore’s old arch rival, the Ford Falcon, continued to rank well outside the Top 10, with just 641 deliveries. The Cruze small car that is built alongside the Commodore had a tough run, with sales down 30 per cent on the same month last year -- about half the sales rate as the same month just two years ago.

March is the typically the second-biggest month for new-car sales as the Japanese brands have a surge in the lead-up to the end of the Japanese financial year, which closed on March 31. The sharp discounting prompts also the non-Japanese brands to compete.

Last year’s top-selling car, the Toyota Corolla, led the March sales race -- but the Mazda3 small car, which was the market leader in January and February, still leads the year-to-date tally. The third-placed Toyota HiLux ute again squeezed the Commodore off the podium in March. But the Commodore still managed to outsell the popular Hyundai i30, Ford Ranger ute and Toyota Camry sedan.

The Commodore also proved more popular than the updated Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4 SUVs, which ranked just inside the Top 10 sellers list for March. The official figures show the new-car market is beginning to make a recovery after a downturn in January and February. Sales in March were down by just 0.1 per cent, to 97,267 deliveries, while sales in the first three months combined are down by 2.4 per cent.

But the downturn has been exaggerated by Nissan, Honda and Mitsubishi, which have all posted massive sales slowdowns for the first three months of this year, likely because their dealer networks are still clearing cars that were declared as sold in 2013.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling