Australia's most popular cars revealed this year
If you drive a Toyota SUV, you're not alone. But one brand has had a dramatic slide in fortunes.
They're more expensive than a similar-size hatchback, no bigger inside and less fun to drive but buyers don't care. Baby SUVs remained the flavour of the month. Sales were up by more than a third in May thanks to new arrivals and strong tallies for existing models. Hyundai's Kona wasn't available in May last year, so its 1192 sales skewed the result somewhat, but other top sellers included the keenly priced Mitsubishi ASX, the Mazda CX-3 and the Subaru XV.
Sales of luxury cars are flat, with the big three Germans either enjoying modest growth or, in the case of market leader Mercedes-Benz, a rare dip. Not so Volvo, apparently bouncing back from an extended spell in the wilderness. Flush with cash from Chinese owner Geely, the Swedish brand is experiencing a product-led revival. The XC60, named 2018 World Car of the Year, is attracting strong interest, while the recently launched XC40 has added to the momentum. A drive-away deal on the V40 hatch has helped too.
The juggernaut rolls on. Nearly one in five new vehicles bought here wears a Toyota badge. What's even more remarkable is that sales have grown 5 per cent this year despite the end of local production of the Camry. Toyota had four of the top 10 vehicles in May - the HiLux was a clear No. 1, the Corolla third, the LandCruiser sixth and the RAV4 eighth. The brand sold an industry record 7500 SUVs last month.
They were the names a generation grew up with - not just the Commodore, Falcon and Camry but Subaru's Liberty, Honda's Accord and Mazda6. This year they're about as popular as Barnaby Joyce at a Nationals convention. Camry sales have held up reasonably well and Holden sold more than 1000 Commodores last month - the vast majority of them imports - but no other mainstream sedan made an impact. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class remains the country's second-best selling mid-size sedan.
The fallout from the Dieselgate scandal is being felt around the globe, with Fiat-Chrysler this week announcing it will phase out diesels in passenger vehicles. Australian consumers appear to be following suit; sales of privately owned diesel cars are down by roughly a quarter this year and private diesel SUV sales are also down. Fleet buyers also have backed away. Overall, though, diesel sales are up, thanks to the continuing boom in one-tonne utes.
The brand continues to struggle in the aftermath of its local factory closure, slipping to sixth in the top 10 brands, with Kia snapping at its heels. The imported Commodore had a relatively strong month but people aren't embracing the new Equinox mid-size SUV as the brand would have hoped. The Colorado one-tonner and Trailblazer off-roader are lagging behind the main competition, while Astra sales have fallen off a cliff in the past two months despite attractive deals.