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Small cars are stars for Ford and Holden

Ford was forced in early January to inject $103 million into its local operation.

Both brands saw their compact cars become their best sellers in January. In the official sales figures, Australia’s former number one car - Holden’s Commodore - was beaten for the first time by the Cruze. To compound the plight of the slow selling locally made big car, Ford’s Focus also easily outsold the troubled Falcon. 

Australia’s number one car remains the 2011 champion, the Mazda 3, followed by two other small models, Toyota’s Corolla and the Cruze. In a week when Holden took steps to reduce its Elizabeth South Australia workforce, the carmaker can at least take consolation from the Cruze being built locally.

The Focus is imported from Belgium. Only 931 Falcons were delivered in January, down even from the miserable 1157 start to last year's sales for the one-time local favourite. 

The overall Ford total lifts to only 2135 vehicles once the Melbourne- made Territory SUV and Falcon ute are included, still behind the 2170 Holden Commodore sedan deliveries for the first month of 2012.

And trailing the baby Focus on 1576. Ford said it was hit badly by a giant storm on Christmas Day that pelted its Broadmeadows site with car crumpling hailstones. Around 1000 cars, a mix of Falcon and Territory, were being stored in the open and took the full force of the weather. 

"It was a shocking storm. They really took a hit," a spokesman for Ford Australia, Neil McDonald, revealed to News Limited. "It was on Christmas Day. The cars were at the plant, waiting to be shipped to dealers and then on to customers." 

The hailstorm is the latest in a series of disasters for Australia's three local carmakers, as Toyota has just cut 350 jobs from its factory at Altona and Holden expects to shed as many as 200 contract workers during a re-organisation of production at its plant in Adelaide. Both decisions are based on falling export sales. 

Ford was forced in early January to inject $103 million into its local operation in joint funding from its global parent in the USA and the Federal government to provide security for local manufacturing through to 2016. The January results, revealed in official VFacts sales totals, are no real surprise. 

Large car sales are traditionally down in January because government departments and big fleet customers are not buying, while Toyota is still getting up to speed with its new Camry - so 1290 sales - and the Mazda3 is still powering off the back of its best selling performance in 2011. 

The January total is a little better than the first month of 2011, with a total of 76,783 sales for a 4.3 per cent lift, but passenger car sales were down slightly and needed bolstering as usual from the strength in SUVs. As usually, Toyota was Australia's favourite brand in January, ahead of Toyota and Mazda.

Toyota 14,065
Holden 9061
Mazda 8479
Hyundai 6513
Ford 5838
Nissan 5358
Mitsubishi 4566
Volkswagen 3366
Subaru 3205
Kia 2276
Mazda3 4045
Toyota Corolla 3383
Holden Cruze 2445
Holden Commodore 2170
Hyundai i30 1986
Mazda2 1624
Nissan Navara 1609
Ford Focus 1576
Mitsubishi Lancer 1470
Toyota Camry 1352
Holden Barina 1318
Toyota RAV4 1292
Toyota Camry 1290
Mazda CX-7 1167
Toyota Kluger 1105
Mitsubishi Triton 1098
Toyota Hilux 1080
Volkswagen Golf 1051
Nissan X-Trail 1048
Toyota Landcruiser 1003


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