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Mercedes C-Class outsells Ford Falcon

March is the first time one of the homegrown heroes has gone down to an expensive prestige car.

-- Big ticket Benz beats budget fleet sedan
-- Sales win comes as Commodore hits new low
-- Mercedes now the third best selling mid-size sedan

The Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore have hit new lows as Australians continue to live it up when it comes to cars. The former fleet and family favourite, the Falcon, has been outsold for the first time by a Mercedes-Benz luxury sedan that costs from $60,000 to $170,000.

In the same month, the Commodore recorded its lowest sales result in the 35-year history of the nameplate -- and was beaten by the Toyota Camry for the fifth time.

Figures for March show that Ford sold 831 Falcons (down 35 per cent) compared to 879 Mercedes-Benz C-Class cars (up 69 per cent) in what was the German model’s best month ever. The Commodore’s tally of 1606 sales was the Holden’s lowest ebb to date.

The Falcon and Commodore -- cars that were once integral to the Australian fabric -- have been hammered by cheaper, smaller and more economical cars in recent years. But March is the first time one of the homegrown heroes has gone down to an expensive prestige car.

The previous month, Mercedes-Benz gave the Holden a bloody nose when it released a better-equipped A-Class hatchback for less money than the most basic Commodore. The baby Benz starts at $35,600.

“The A-Class definitely brought more traffic into showrooms last month and people are realising that Mercedes-Benz is not out of reach,” said Mercedes-Benz spokesman Jerry Stamoulis. Incredibly, the Mercedes C-Class is now the third highest selling medium-sized car behind the mainstream Toyota Camry and Mazda6.

The Commodore and Falcon floggings come as figures show just how much taxpayer money Australia’s three local car makers have received over the past 12 years. Holden received about twice as much government funding ($2.17 billion) as Ford ($1.1 billion) and Toyota ($1.2 billion) over the same period, even though it does not build as many cars as market leader Toyota.

All three car makers have gradually cutback their blue-collar workforces to meet falling demand for locally-made vehicles in recent years. But more cuts are likely if new versions of the Commodore and Falcon don’t make a sales turnaround.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling