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A cheap and cheerful car brand introduced to Australia in 1986 by a savvy Perth car dealer and colourful businessman, the late Alan Bond, has done the unthinkable.
Hyundai has shocked the Australian motor industry by becoming the top-selling car last month. It is the first time the South Korean brand has been in the top spot since the plucky Hyundai Excel knocked the Holden Commodore off its perch in June 1998.
Driven by a special offer of $19,990 drive-away with automatic transmission and a rear-view camera -- about $7000 off full price -- the Hyundai i30 hatchback outsold the reigning champions the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3 in June, according to preliminary figures.
More than three out of every four Hyundai i30s sold were of the cut-price $19,990 model, dealer sources have told News Corp Australia.
Sales of utes were also strong in the rush to the end of the financial year
More than 5500 Hyundai i30 hatchbacks were delivered last month, easily eclipsing the tally of 4150 Toyota Corollas and 4130 Mazda3s.
The result is more remarkable once you take into account the Hyundai i30 tally is for hatchback sales alone, whereas the Toyota and Mazda totals include both sedans and hatches.
The sedan version of the Hyundai i30 is sold with another badge, otherwise the leading margin would have been even greater (more than 680 Hyundai Elantra sedans were sold in June).
Sales of utes were also strong in the rush to the end of the financial year, filling three of the Top 10 places and the Toyota HiLux claiming second outright.
Industry insiders believe the car industry is on track for a new record year
Seven of the Top 10 brands posted significant sales gains, but Holden, Ford and Nissan were down on the same month last year.
Figures for the total market are not due to be published until Friday, however industry insiders believe the car industry is on track for a new record year.
Record low interest rates -- rather than the $20,000 tax incentive for small businesses announced in the latest Federal Budget -- are the driving force behind the sales surge, say dealer sources.
"People are still trying to get their head around what the $20,000 tax break means for their business, but they also need to have the money to spend in the first place," said a finance expert at a leading metropolitan Toyota dealership.
"The biggest driver is interest rates. People are figuring out they can pay less than what they were paying three or four years ago and get a brand-new car. Or they can make the same repayments and get a dearer car."
Figures supplied to News Corp Australia show that the weekly repayments on a $20,000 car today can be as low as $387 per month, or $89 a week, in a best-case scenario of 6 per cent interest.
But three years ago, a $20,000 car typically cost about $486 per month, with the buyer paying more than $9000 in interest over five years, versus $3200 in interest over the same period today.
Alternatively, the repayments of $486 per month at today's low interest rates will buy a $25,000 car rather than a $20,000 car.
Meanwhile, the industry is still coming to grips with Hyundai’s shock result just 29 years after arriving in Australia.
Hyundai cars were introduced locally in 1986 by Perth car dealer John Hughes — who went on to become the company’s biggest retail outlet in the southern hemisphere from 1997 to 2003 — with financial backing by Alan Bond.
But with Bond Corporation suffering financial difficulties, the distribution rights in Australia were then handled by a Singapore-based company from 1990 until Hyundai established a head office locally in 2003.
Indeed, Hyundai is now a challenger for third place outright if it can overtake Holden and push the former Number One to fourth by the end of the year.
Holden is currently third place behind Toyota and Mazda when the year-to-date tally is calculated, but is locked in a bumper-to-bumper battle with Hyundai.
Hyundai has been ahead of Holden for three of the first six months of this year, and the two brands are separated by just 1100 sales.
After being beaten by Hyundai in May, Holden leapt ahead in the June sales tally thanks to the biggest month ever for the Trax baby SUV, Captiva5 compact SUV, the Colorado ute, and Colorado7 seven-seater.
Hyundai i30 - 5520
Toyota HiLux - 4280
Toyota Corolla - 4150
Mazda3 - 4130
Mitsubishi Triton - 3530
Ford Ranger - 3370
Holden Commodore - 2770
Volkswagen Golf - 2680
Toyota Camry - 2600
Mazda CX5 - 2510
Toyota - 21,500 - up 3.3 per cent
Holden - 11,930 - down 3.3 per cent
Mazda - 11,520 - up 23 per cent
Hyundai - 11,005 - up 10 per cent
Mitsubishi - 9015 - up 8.9 per cent
Ford - 7250 - down 16.8 per cent
Volkswagen - 7105 - up 7.7 per cent
Nissan - 6645 - down 16.9 per cent
Honda - 5310 - up 70 per cent
Subaru - 4500 - up 16.9 per cent
* Preliminary figures. Official VFACTS data published Friday 3 July, 2015.