July tally shows SUV charge, Ranger dominance

July was another big month for new vehicle sales – with Ford’s Ranger pulling out a blinder and sport utilities gaining more ground.

THE land might be in the grip of winter but, for the country’s new car sellers, the sun is still shining and the sales temperature remains searingly hot.

New vehicle registrations released today show last month was another ripper, not least for Ford, as always on the strength of a stunning Ranger performance.

So what’s driving this?

David Crawford, chief executive officer of the Motor Industry Association, which speaks for new vehicle importers, cites several factors.

 “The strongest net immigration on record, healthy tourism sector and a generally robust economy continues to drive sales of new vehicles beyond that expected,” he said today.

 Some 11,570 new vehicles were registered last month, an 11.6 percent growth on July 2015; year-on-year, the market is showing a 6.2 percent growth to date. 

Along with record sales year to date, Crawford notes consumer preferences for vehicles continues to evolve with registrations of sports utilities now regularly outstripping all other passenger vehicle segments.

The commercial sector is also running strong.

“For the month of July there were 7702 passenger and SUV vehicle registrations and 3868 commercial vehicle registrations - once again the highest month of July on record for commercial vehicle registrations,” Crawford says.

Toyota was the overall market leader in July with 2024 units for a 17 percent market share, with Ford second (1550 units, 13 percent) and Holden third (980, eight percent).

Toyota held passenger car market leadership with 17 percent share (1321 units), with Mazda second on nine percent (686 units) and Holden third, also with nine percent  (663 units).

Ford regained the commercial vehicle market lead from Toyota with 25 percent share (972 units) followed by Toyota with 18 percent (703 units) and Holden third with eight percent (317 units).

Year to date, Ford and Toyota each hold 21 percent of the commercial market with Ford holding a slight lead with 5357 units registered to date and Toyota with 5318 units.

The Toyota Corolla was the top selling passenger model with 486 units, followed by the Kia Sportage 378 and the Toyota RAV4, 326 units.

However, the top-selling vehicle by considerable margin was the Ford Ranger utility, with a remarkable 925 units.

This count – a record for July – allowed Ranger to easily retain its position as the monthly top selling commercial model for the month; the next strongest seller, the Toyota Hilux, managed 486 units. Hilux had also held the previous commercial vehicle sales record for any month: 847 units set in June 2014.  

The third best-selling commercial was the Holden Colorado, with 303 units despite a run-out push to make way for an upgraded range landing in September.

Unsurprisingly, year to date Ranger retains its lead as the top selling commercial model with 4925 units (for a 20 percent market share) followed by the Hilux, with 3749 (15 percent).

Crawford notes that the  SUV segments accounted for 34 percent of vehicle registrations in July followed by passenger segments with 32 percent and the light commercial segments with 28 percent.

The top models sold were either SUVs or light commercial vehicles – incredibly, as the MIA sees it, just three passenger models made the combined car/commercial top 15.

“Consumer preferences for different types of vehicles continues to evolve. It is the rise and rise of the SUV segment that has seen the biggest substitution over the years,” Crawford cited.

“It accounted for only 12 percent of the market in 2002 and 18 percent during the global financial crisis but by the end of 2016 is likely to be 37 percent of the market.”

He believes it is increasingly probable that this year will provide the first time see the SUV segment outsells the passenger segment over a 12 month period.