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Toyota HiLux wins April sales race in falling market

Toyota’s HiLux edged out its Ford Ranger rival for the top spot.

Toyota’s HiLux edged out its Ford Ranger rival for the top spot on the Australian sales charts last month.

Toyota retained its place as the best-selling brand in Australia again in April, more than doubling the sales of its nearest rival, while the carmaker’s HiLux ute was the country’s best-selling vehicle.

Overall, the Aussie car market slowed last month with sales down just on five per cent compared to April last year.

More than half the country’s leading car brands dipped into negative figures – the worst of them were down 20 per cent from April 2016.

Some 83,135 vehicles were sold in April, and while still a strong performance, that number is down from 87,571 for the same period last year. 

The car market’s official score keepers, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), laid the blame at the number of public holidays in April distracting potential buyers.

Both Easter and ANZAC Day fell in the month, with the latter being on a Tuesday, providing the perfect platform for another four-day weekend.

According to FCAI boss, Tony Weber, there were two less selling days in April this year compared to last.

“Added to this was the dampening effect the holiday period had on dealership traffic as many families headed off to enjoy a final break before winter,” Mr Weber said.

So far this year the car market is down 2.8 per cent, or 10,419 sales, compared to last year and it is traditional passenger cars bearing the brunt with a drop of 9.2 per cent. 

Kia bucked the trend and did well in April with consistent gains across its mainstream models.

Car companies will be hoping the drop was just a holiday inspired hiccup and not a slowing economy.

It’s not all bad news, however, with business buyers pushing the sales of vans and pick-ups up just over three per cent for the month.

The best-selling Toyota HiLux had 3430 units roll out the door, just in front of the Ford Ranger with 3120 sold.

The sub-$40,000 small car segment is Australia’s biggest, and it dropped 10.5 per cent in April, mostly because Hyundai was switching to a new i30 and had fewer cars available to sell.

Other top models in that segment were down 13.7 per cent and 7.9 per cent respectively, the Toyota Corolla (2555 sales) and Mazda3 (2313).

Toyota came out on top overall with 16,090 sales in April, but even the perennial industry champion was down 2.9 per cent on the same time last year.

In second-place was Mazda on 8630 sales, up two per cent on April last year, mostly thanks to its new CX-5 which is back as Australia’s top SUV with 2166 sales.

Hyundai clung to third place despite a 20.7 per cent sales drop. This was purely because of the i30 which, as mentioned, was caught between run-out and the introduction of the all-new model this week.

Other than i30, the brand had a good month with the Tucson and Elantra selling well.

Holden only just beat Ford into fourth with monthly sales of 5804 to 5802, the closure of local factories biting both brands hard.

Mitsubishi rode on a 30.9 per cent surge in sales that was mostly down to a strong run by its ASX small SUV, that managed 1451 sales.

Kia also bucked the trend and did well in April with consistent gains across its mainstream models – Cerato, Sorento, Sportage, Picanto and Carnival – amounting to an overall 36.2 per cent lift in sales.

Nissan almost dropped out of the top 10 for the first time in more than 20 years thanks to a 17.2 per cent sales plunge in April playing its part in a 14 per cent overall drop off so far this year.

Contenders for Nissan’s seventh spot on the sales ladder include Volkswagen, Kia and Subaru, and each of these brands out-sold Nissan last month.

Times were also tough for the silver tails in the luxury segment with BMW and Audi dropping 26.6 percent and 19.4 per cent respectively. Mercedes Benz was alone among the big three German brands to hold its own with modest growth of 0.3 per cent for the month.

Most of that was underpinned by the brand’s top-selling C-Class that notched up an impressive 22 per cent increase and sold 651 units.

Were cars sales off in April because of the public holidays or is the economy slowing down? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

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