Another cracker

Once again, we’re into the magic millions

BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

AUSTRALIA will remember 2015 as yet another bumper year for newvehicle sales in Australia, bursting past the magic million mark for the sixth year running on a wave of surging SUV demand.

And 2016 could be just as big, industry insiders say.

Volkswagen Australia managing director Michael Bartsch says fresh metal is key, especially small SUVs like the new-generation Tiguan.

“What people are watching is … the significant move towards small SUVs, and the impact that is going to have on what share of the market you are going to be getting,” he told Wheels.

SUVs experienced a healthy rise of about 14 percent last year, further eroding the once-dominant market share enjoyed by passenger cars, which fell a few percent.

Boosting interest were newcomers to the burgeoning small SUV sector, including the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V.

The medium SUV category remains the second-largest segment, still a long way behind small cars but gaining ground.

For high-flying Mazda, the explosion in sales of small SUVs brought fresh buyers to the brand, with its 15 percent jump in volume tripling the industry average.

“(With CX-3) Mazda has been able to drive a healthy lift in overall sales for the full year, lifting our ranking to second place in the industry and securing almost 10 percent market share,” Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders said.

Despite having almost double Mazda’s market share, sales heavyweight Toyota stagnated last year. Its upcoming sub-RAV4 SUV cannot come soon enough.

Holden and Ford continued to decline in 2015 – especially the latter – allowing Hyundai to sit steady in third with fifthplaced (and improving) Mitsubishi separating the Red and Blue camps. Also going backwards were stablemates Jeep (down marginally), Fiat (down a lot), Alfa Romeo (down an eyebrow-raising number) and Chrysler (cut in half).

Players on the plus side of the ledger included Suzuki and Renault (up marginally), Kia, Honda and Skoda (up significantly), and even embattled Volkswagen scored a double-digit jump.

Further up the pricing ladder, German luxury triumvirate Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, along

Ferrari, Porsche and McLaren grew but were all overshadowed by Lamborghini


with Land Rover, posted doubledigit growth. Lexus, Maserati and Infiniti improved their lot by about a third, while Mini courted significantly more customers.

More impressively, while Ferrari, Porsche and McLaren grew sales significantly, all were overshadowed by Lamborghini’s 200 percent-plus boom.

A wave of fresh metal, including an all-new Toyota Hilux and tweaked Ford Ranger, helped commercial vehicles hold ground.

Finally, while large cars such as Falcon languish with record lows, a late rally from Commodore aided by the recently launched 6.2-litre models proved that there’s still nothing quite like a V8.

BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS