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New-car sales hit the brakes again in October


New-car sales have slowed for nine out of the past 10 months as Australian-made cars fall out of favour and we embrace luxury cars.

Australians are falling out of love with locally-made cars faster than expected, putting increased pressure on the industry to make it all the way to the end of 2017 before Ford, Holden and Toyota factories shut down.

Official sales figures for October show that sales of Australian-made cars have tanked and we are buying imported and luxury cars in greater numbers than ever before.

The Ford Falcon, once our top seller, hit a new record low of just 396 deliveries in October as the new-car market slowed for the ninth time in 10 months, figures released at midday Thursday are expected to show.

The new Commodore has also hit the skids, with sales down by a staggering 33 per cent, which dragged Holden’s tally across the range down by 28 per cent in the same month that company boss Gerry Dorizas left Holden suddenly after a little more than six months in the job.

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Even the bulletproof Toyota Camry is off the boil, with sales down by 15 per cent compared with the same month last year.

The Ford Falcon and Toyota Camry are due to receive updates in the next few months and a dip in sales is usually offset by heavy discounting. But both cars have failed to attract buyers as they once did.

Despite record low interest rates and car affordability at a 38-year high, official sales figures for October show the market is down by 1.5 per cent compared with the same month last year, with 91,236 deliveries, although we are still on track to buy more than 1 million vehicles in 2014.

Private buyers kept their hands in their pockets (sales down 3.9 per cent), as did business fleets (down 2.0 per cent). Only government (up 2.2 per cent) and rental fleets (up 18 per cent) showed growth in October, the latter injecting new cars into the system ahead of the summer holidays.

The Toyota Corolla has stretched its lead over the new Mazda3 as Australia’s favourite car for 2014, although the pair is separated by fewer than 1000 sales year-to-date.

This means if you’re in the market for a new Corolla or Mazda3 in the next two months you will likely get an even sharper deal as each tries to secure the top-seller title.

In other upsets, South Korean car maker Hyundai was the second best-selling brand for the first time ever, ahead of Holden and behind Toyota. Hyundai Australia has been led by CEO John Elsworth, a former Holden executive for 22 years, since 2012.

Meanwhile German luxury brand Mercedes-Benz made it into the Top 10 for only the second time ever (the first time was in May this year), ahead of mainstream brands Jeep and Kia.

Luxury vehicles now account for approximately 10 per cent of Australia’s new-car sales; the global average is 7 per cent.

Top 10 cars in October

  • Toyota Corolla 3819 down 1.1 per cent
  • Toyota HiLux 3228 up 1.7 per cent
  • Mazda3 2928 down 19 per cent
  • Hyundai i30 2475 up 4.0 per cent
  • Ford Ranger 2405 up 18 per cent
  • Holden Commodore 2210 down 33 per cent
  • Toyota Camry 1908 down 15.2 per cent
  • Mitsubishi Triton 1787 down 2.6 per cent
  • Volkswagen Golf 1755 down 10.8 per cent
  • Mazda CX-5 1594 up 3.5 per cent

Top 10 brands in October

  • Toyota 17,382 down 4.1 per cent
  • Hyundai 8401 up 3.3 per cent
  • Holden 7542 down 28.4 per cent
  • Mazda 6880 down 13.6 per cent
  • Ford 6337 down 15.3 per cent
  • Nissan 5759 up 8.9 per cent
  • Mitsubishi 5115 up 0.9 per cent
  • Volkswagen 4764 down 3.0 per cent
  • Subaru 4003 up 40.0 per cent
  • Mercedes-Benz 3150 up 39.3 per cent

Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, VFACTS. Percentage change compared to the same month last year.