Official March figures released by VFACTS today have revealed a chink in Mazda’s armour.
For the first three months of 2017 Mazda had sold 30,462 vehicles. This year, over the same period, sales have dropped by 713 units to 29,749. The model line that has contributed most to this shortfall has been the Mazda3, with a sales number 739 units lower, year on year.
Formerly the top-selling car in the market, the current Mazda3 is due for replacement and its successor has already been unveiled in concept form. The problem for Mazda in the short term is that the KAI-based successor – with new HCCI engine technology – isn’t due here until next year.
Mazda is not the only brand to watch sales evaporate in an otherwise booming market. Among the top 10, March was a punishing month for sales champion Toyota, third-placed Hyundai, Ford and Holden. Of those brands, only Holden has slipped down a rung on the top-10 sales ladder, for the year to date. The GM brand was just 32 sales ahead of Kia in 10th position for the month.
Both Holden and Toyota are suffering from post-manufacturing hangover, in differing degrees. As we reported two days ago, Holden’s new ZB Commodore sold barely half the monthly sales tally of 990 cars – the balance being runout stock of locally-manufactured VF II models. And that monthly figure for Commodore was less than half the number of cars sold in March 2017.
Not helping Holden’s plight is the performance of Captiva, Colorado, Trailblazer and Trax, all of which are selling in lower numbers for March and for the year to date. At least Captiva’s shortfall is almost offset by improving sales of the Equinox.
Toyota’s year to date figure is ahead of last year’s, but the company’s sales fell by 774 vehicles in March, measured year on year. Camry sales are down 920 units for March, and 838 units for the full year so far.
Aurion, which was discontinued at the end of last year, when the Altona factory closed, has also posted 265 fewer sales for March and 452 fewer sales for the first quarter of 2018. The slack has been offset mostly by Toyota’s SUVs and the HiLux light commercial range.
Ford’s sales have flatlined, but the year-to-date figure (18,391) is only 42 sales behind the same period last year, and the March figure of 6687 is 165 units behind the number for March 2017.
Despite being out of the local manufacturing business for roughly 18 months, Ford is still held back in outright numbers by dissipating sales of Falcon (156 sold in the first three months of 2017) and particularly Territory (nearly 1100 sold by this time last year).
But Escape, Everest and Ranger are all making up the difference. Still, Ford must be waiting anxiously for the arrival of Endura, the imported replacement for the popular Territory.
The total market – 106,988 sales for March (versus 105,410 for March 2017) – is powering along, and the year-to-date total is 291,538. That’s over 12,000 more than the same period in 2017: 279,345.
SUVs continue to be the main game – at 45,525 they’re over 9000 units ahead of passenger cars for the month. Posting a sales figure of 123,214, SUVs are over 20,000 ahead of passenger cars for the year to date, and that’s a 12,000-unit gain, year on year.
Passenger cars remain in decline, and that’s not likely to change. Sales for March (36,120) were nearly 2900 units behind March 2017 and year-to-date sales (102,470) are over 6000 units shy of the same period last year.
As of March, the top 10 brands for the year to date are: Toyota (52,465), Mazda (29,749), Hyundai (23,568), Mitsubishi (21,215), Ford (18,391), Nissan (15,761), Holden (15,524), Honda (15,129), Kia (14,279) and Volkswagen (13,787).
Top 10 vehicles for the month were: Toyota HiLux (4348), Ford Ranger (4064), Toyota Corolla (3218), Mitsubishi Triton (3109), Mazda3 (2780), Hyundai i30 (2719), Nissan X-TRAIL (2504), Mitsubishi ASX (2337), Mazda CX-5 (2261) and Toyota LandCruiser (2148).