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Toyota HiLux wins January 2019 sales race

The venerable HiLux ute helped Toyota increase its year-to-date sales by 4.3 per cent in January.

The Australian new-vehicle market declined yet again in January, with sales decreasing by 7.4 per cent over the same month last year, according to VFACTS sales data released today.

In total, 81,994 vehicles were sold – the lowest January tally since 2012 when 76,783 sales were recorded as the market responded to the global financial crisis.

All major segments – passenger cars, SUVs and light-commercial vehicles – were down, signalling that the economy is facing serious challenges.

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) chief executive officer Tony Weber said the sales decline was due to lower levels of consumer confidence.

“The current economic environment is a challenging one, with an imminent federal election, a declining real estate market and tighter lending practices,” he said.

Nonetheless, market leader Toyota avoided negative territory and increased its sales by 4.3 per cent.

Partly thanks to Australia’s best-selling overall model, the HiLux ute (3951 units), the Japanese brand sold 15,961 vehicles to increase its market share to 19.5 per cent (+2.2%).

Second-placed Mazda dipped by 6.2 per cent, to 9490 units, despite selling the most popular passenger car, the Mazda3 (2831), and SUV, the CX-5 (2347).

Mitsubishi also bucked the market trend by increasing its volume by a healthy 26.7 per cent, to 6669 units and a personal market-share record of 8.2 per cent, to accelerate past Hyundai and claim third place.

The Korean brand endured a startling 12.9 per cent sales slide, to 6205 units, while its sibling Kia climbed up to fifth place with 4641 sales (+2.6%).

Ford and Holden continued their sales slump, declining 21.7 and 27.1 per cent to sixth and seventh place respectively.

The Blue Oval was impacted by an unusual 21.3 per cent decline in sales for its best-selling Ranger ute, which made up 2564 of its 4421 sales.

Matters were worse for the Red Lion, which registered its lowest market share yet, at 5.1 per cent (-1.4%) from 4167 sales.

Honda shrugged off an 11.8 per cent fall to claim eighth position on the sales ladder with 4042 sales, ahead of Nissan (3804, -19.2%) and Volkswagen (3617, -9.1%) in ninth and 10th respectively.

In the luxury segment, BMW sold more passenger cars and SUVs than Mercedes-Benz for the first time in years, with the former selling 2060 vehicles (-2.4%) to the latter’s 2034 (-29.8%).

SUV sales declined by 5.1 per cent in January but increased their market dominance to a record 43.8 per cent share.

Similarly, sales of light-commercial vehicles decreased by 5.8 per cent while their market share improved to 19.3 per cent.

When will the Australian new-vehicle market see monthly growth again? Tell us what you think in the comments below.