Cars we are turning our back on
Car sales continued to nosedive in April, but there were some bright spots amid the gloom.
The election talk might be centred around electric vehicles but most new car buyers don't seem very interested in saving the planet. The Toyota LandCruiser, which in petrol form puts out nearly four times the amount of CO2 as the company's Corolla hybrid, finished No. 5 on the sales charts. If you add the smaller LandCruiser Prado, the nameplate was second only to Toyota's HiLux in the monthly sales race, with 3507 sales. Sales of large SUVs are defying the odds, climbing by almost 8 per cent in a declining market. For the record, 198 EVs and plug-in hybrids were sold in April.
Can't see the traffic lights because there's a behemoth in front of you? That's because everyone's buying utes, whether they need them or not. The usual suspects, the HiLux and the Ford Ranger, fill the top spots on the ladder, but honourable mentions go to the Isuzu D-Max and Holden's Colorado. The Holden knocked off the Mitsubishi Triton this month and sales are up 8 per cent year-to-date, a decent achievement considering the market is down by a similar number.
The numbers are spectacular. Great Wall sales were up by 115 per cent in April, while Haval sales jumped 263 per cent and MG climbed by 126 per cent. Year-to-date MG sales are running at roughly five times last year's rate. Overall, roughly 4500 people have ordered Chinese off the new-car menu, an 83 per cent increase over last year. Great Wall and LDV are focused on no-frills workhorses and MG and Haval are making headway in the passenger market. MG is now more popular than Jeep in Australia, an unthinkable prospect a few years ago.
The Japanese brand has long been a quite achiever - never recording spectacular sales increases but generating plenty of customer loyalty and repeat business. Sales are down by more than a third this year thanks to a defect in a supplied part that shut down Japanese production for almost two weeks. Local supply has slowed to a trickle as a result but sales should rebound in May.
Talk about hot and cold. The brand was flying high in March as sales grew 15 per cent. Leading the charge was the Triton ute, which was third on the sales charts. The ASX and Outlander also made the top 10, as the brand consolidated its position as Australia's third favourite with a bumper finish to the Japanese financial year. After the party came the hangover - sales were down 14 per cent in April.
It wasn't long ago that companies were tripping over themselves to launch diesel versions of popular hatchbacks. Private sales of diesel passenger cars were down by more than a third last month, while year-to-date the decline is 45 per cent. Fleet buyers are also abandoning the fuel. Of more concern is the decline of diesel SUVs. The fuel makes sense in bigger SUVs because the extra torque makes it easier and more economical to shift that extra bulk. But private sales of diesel SUVs are down by 18 per cent this year. In contrast, hybrids are booming - Toyota says one Corolla in three is petrol-electric and, for Camry sales, it's roughly half.