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Holden sales drop eased by SUV boom

SUVs have played a major role in Holden’s stronger April sales performance, thanks to models such as the Equinox.

In what has been a tough start to 2018 sales-wise, Holden has something to smile about with its Trailblazer, Trax and new Equinox SUVs all registering a lift in sales volume in April when compared to the same month last year.

According to VFACTS sales figures released today, SUV sales for the Red Lion were up 44.8 per cent in April, however those successes were offset by its passenger-car range, which continues to fall to the tune of 46 per cent.

Overall Holden sales were down 21.2 per cent, to 4576 units, its lowest monthly figure this century. Comparatively, the overall new-car market was treading water in April with 82,930 sales, down 0.2 per cent year-on-year.

SUVs have continued their uptick in popularity with Australian buyers, especially small SUVs, whose sales climbed by one-third last month.

More than 43 per cent of new vehicle sales were made up by SUVs, while passenger cars dipped 14.4 per cent to fall below a one-third overall percentage share for the first time.

Holden’s European-built new-generation Commodore sedan and Astra hatch are still struggling for sales momentum, with Commodore sales down nearly 60 per cent last month, to 587 units.

Roughly one quarter of those were leftover stock of the Aussie-built VFII, meaning less than 500 examples of the ZB Commodore found homes in April.

Astra sales dipped 37.2 per cent, to 497 units, however the Barina light hatch jumped 37.7 per cent, to 269 units, helping Holden climb to sixth overall brand-wise, up from 10th last month.

Sales powerhouse Toyota kept climbing in April with 16,647 sales, up 3.5 per cent – meaning its market share topped 20 per cent for the month – more than double second-placed Mazda with 9.3 per cent.

The HiLux ute continued as Australia’s best-selling vehicle with 3596 sales, with stablemate Corolla second on 2979 sales. As such, Ford’s Ranger pick-up was relegated to third place with 2796 units.

Mazda sales slid 10.5 per cent to 7723 units, with the Mazda3 small car (2261) and CX-5 medium SUV (1725) doing the heavy lifting.

Hyundai narrowed the gap on Mazda with a 4.1 per cent monthly climb to 7132 units, thanks in part to the Tucson medium SUV which grew by 18.7 per cent, to 1816 sales.

Mitsubishi held onto fourth spot with 5508 sales – a marginal increase over last year – with the segment-leading ASX small SUV leading the charge with 1706 sales.

Fifth-placed Ford dipped 16.9 per cent to 4822 sales, with the drop partly attributed to the Mustang sports car which dwindled by 40.4 per cent (381 units) before its facelift due next month.

Over half of Ford sales were made up by the Ranger pick-up despite its most popular 4x4 version dropping by 13.3 per cent.

The light-commercial-vehicle segment recorded a rare 5.9 per cent dip in sales, which may be due to customers waiting for the impending end of financial year sales boom in the coming months.

Of the luxury manufacturers, Mercedes-Benz led the way with 2527 sales, despite a 10.8 per cent slide which it attributes to the run-out of the A-Class small hatch and C-Class mid-sizer, as well as stock shortages.

Audi’s new Q5 mid-size SUV was the main catalyst for its 7.5 per cent increase in sales, to 1495 units, while BMW experienced an incremental increase of 1.2 per cent, to 1823 units.

Are SUVs the key to saving Holden’s sales? Tell us what you think in the comments below.