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VFACTS: May's shining stars

Despite two consecutive months of strong decline, numerous brands and models are bucking the downward trend, with budget and luxury players showing significant growth in trying times.

5 months ago
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James Wong
Production Editor

It’s no secret Australia’s automotive industry is doing it tough, but even amidst a global health pandemic several players have been bucking the downward trend and posting impressive results.

Here’s a look at some of the shining stars for May 2020.

Brands

A trio of manufacturers showed substantial growth off solid bases in May, despite the 35 per cent industry decline.

China’s Haval saw a 73.9 per cent increase from 119 units in May last year to 207 sales in May 2020 – on the back of strong performances from its H2 and H6 SUVs.

Year-to-date, the Chinese SUV specialist is up 96.7 per cent.

Fellow Chinese-owned brand MG continues its long-running rise up the charts, posting 14.5 per cent growth in May 2020 and up 62.5 per cent YTD.

While Haval is playing in the 100s and 200s ballpark, MG is triple its compatriot’s volume at 664 units in May and 4394 registrations YTD.

Finally, Ram saw 42.3 per cent growth in May, on the back of continued success for its 1500 Express.

Overall sales increased from 234 units in May 2019 to 333 sales in May 2020. Not bad when you consider the brand’s most affordable product – the 1500 Express – starts from $79,950 before on-road costs.

Models

Numerous nameplates saw substantial growth in volume and/or market share last month, mainly from the premium segments.

The new Audi Q3 is seeing a resurgence following a quiet period between generations, returning 329 registrations in May 2020 – growth of over 999 per cent compared to the five units sold during the same month last year.

Year-to-date the Q3 is up 522.5 per cent, and now comfortably leads the premium small SUV segment with a 26.8 per cent share. Together with its smaller (and ageing) Q2 sibling, Audi accounts for a third of all premium small crossover sales.

To put that into perspective, the Q3 outsells the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross and Suzuki Vitara in the mainstream class, both of which start at almost half the price.

Fellow German marque BMW saw great results for its 3 Series, X6 and Z4 – although the latter two are off low bases.

While the 3 Series ‘only’ grew 0.8 per cent (268 v 266 units) last month, it grew market share by 10.1 per cent to hold 31.9 per cent of the luxury mid-size class in May.

The 3er is also up 26.2 per cent YTD, with 1312 vehicles registered as of May 31.

Elsewhere in the BMW range the new X6 is showing substantial growth off a low base, increasing 423.1 per cent to 68 units (from 13 sales).

Also up 173.5 per cent YTD, the X6 bolsters the related X5’s stronghold on the large premium SUV market, together accounting for 27.6 per cent of monthly sales (322 units).

Finally, the Z4 sports car is going against the trend of sliding sports car sales, posting 290 per cent growth to 39 monthly sales in May, and is up 118.4 per cent YTD with 107 examples sold to the end of last month.

Ford’s Transit and Transit Custom commercial vans are going strong, growing 45.9 per cent and 25.1 per cent with 108 and 219 registrations respectively. The Transit Custom is also up 3.4 per cent YTD.

We mentioned Haval earlier, and the key driver to its May growth was the compact H2 crossover – growing by 133.9 per cent with 145 registrations compared to 62 during the same month last year.

The H2 is also up 153.9 per cent YTD, while the larger H6 was up 75 per cent in May to 49 units, albeit off a low base.

Just one Mazda model grew in May 2020 – the CX-8 seven seater. Rising by 1.9 per cent to 212 units, the CX-8 grew its market share in the large SUV class by 1.3 per cent and outsold rivals like the Kia Sorento (due to be replaced in the coming months) and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace.

Together with the petrol-only CX-9, Mazda owned 11.9 per cent of the segment in May, behind only the top-selling Toyota Prado and Kluger (32.9 per cent combined).

Mercedes-Benz saw strong growth from two higher-volume model lines, both of which posting triple-figure increases.

The recently-launched CLA four-door coupe twin to the A-Class hatch and sedan was up a massive 357.9 per cent in May 2020 to 174 units, up from last year’s 38-unit result in the changeover between generations.

Competing in the premium mid-size category, the Mercedes-Benz CLA was second overall last month with a 20.7 share of the segment.

Despite the aforementioned BMW 3 Series being the undisputed segment leader, Mercedes technically has more market share with the CLA and C-Class, together holding a huge 37.2 per cent of the category’s monthly sales (313 units).

The new-generation Mercedes-Benz GLE is also making waves, growing by 204.7 per cent to 195 sales and increasing market share by 12.3 points to 16.8 per cent. Only the BMW X5 sold more units in May.

A special mention to the even larger GLS for its strong performance so far in 2020, with 350 units sold to the end of May representing growth of 157.4 per cent. Note: Between generations the GLS went a few months in 2019 with no sales, so its monthly figure of 77 units compares to a 0-sale month last year.

The three-pointed star’s commercial range also saw some impressive results, namely the Vito van which grew by 669.2 per cent to 100 units. Despite falling sales in the dual-cab ute segment, the X-Class 4×4 grew 15.1 per cent with 160 registrations.

MG’s overall growth in May is off the back of the strong-selling MG3 light hatch and incremental volume from the all-new HS crossover.

The MG3 took silver in the light passenger segment, with 302 sales and a 15.3 per cent share – second only to the Suzuki Swift.

In the mid-size SUV class the MG HS’s 162 sales may pale in comparison to the likes of the Toyota RAV4 (2345 units) and Mazda CX-5 (1479 units), but it’s more than the monthly figures for the Ford Escape, Jeep Cherokee, Renault Koleos and Skoda Karoq.

Further, the HS’s monthly figure has already eclipsed its GS predecessor’s YTD sales at this time last year (162 v 151 units).

The Nissan Patrol is slowly clawing back ground from its nemesis, the Toyota Landcruiser, growing 12.3 per cent to 219 units with a 14.8 per cent share. It still has a long way to go however, with the Landcruiser Wagon accounting for 85.2 per cent and 1260 units in May despite a slide of 9.9 per cent.

As mentioned earlier, locally-converted Ram products are in high demand. The Ram 1500 Express increased by 147.6 per cent in May to 203 units, and is up 73.5 per cent YTD.

Suzuki had a strong month of Baleno sales, with the Indian-made light hatch rising 139.4 per cent to 237 units in May.

Together with the Swift (down 56.5 per cent), the Japanese brand accounted for more than a quarter (27.9 per cent, 550 units) of light car sales, as well as first place for the Swift despite sales halving for the nameplate (313 units).

Japan scored another win in the small SUV segment, with the Toyota C-HR taking top gong with 789 registrations and a 14.3 per cent share.

The striking C-HR only grew by 2.6 per cent, but compared to a 23 per cent decline for the segment it led the likes of the Hyundai Kona (737 units) and Mitsubishi ASX (725 units).

Elsewhere in the Toyota range, the HiAce van grew 69 per cent month-on-month to deliver 615 sales and a 41.6 per cent share.

While the RAV4 mid-size crossover fell in May, it’s still up 43.3 per cent YTD and a key driver for hybrid SUV sales, which are up 20.4 per cent and 5.8 per cent in the private and non-private sectors respectively.

Additionally, hybrid SUV sales in the private and non-private markets are up a huge 412.5 per cent and 315.3 per cent respectively.

For a detailed report on VFACTS results for the entire industry, click here.


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