Australians bought 15% fewer locally made cars in 2013, a record low that cements last year’s 3% decline.
However, car sales as a whole were up 2.2%, Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries figures released yesterday show.
Some commentators have pointed to this as evidence Australian auto manufacturers don’t make the cars that people want to buy.
But Tony Weber, FCAI’s chief executive, doesn’t pay that argument much heed, saying the market is far more competitive now than it used to be.
“In 2003, the market was 910,000 sales in total,” he says. “The Commodore was the top-selling car with 9.5% of the market.
“Today, no one brand sells that much. There are so many brands and so many models, and you don’t get the volumes you used to. People today can chose from over 350 different models. And from those, Australian-made cars like the Holden Commodore were the 5th most popular, followed by the Holden Cruze at 8th, with the Falcon in the top 20.
“There are criticisms of those cars, but they’re all doing extremely well in a very populated marketplace. It all goes back to the splintering of the market.”
The figures show more than 1.136 million new cars were sold last year, compared with 1.112 million in 2012.
The market share of locally made cars continued to decline, falling 15% to 118,510 units, while sales of imported vehicles increased by 5% to more than 1 million.
Toyota remained the top rated brand, with 214,000 sales, but its lead against Holden, Hyundai, Mazda and Ford narrowed.
Mitsubishi had a particularly good year, selling 21.5% more vehicles in 2013 than it did in 2012 for sales of 71,528 cars in total. Also enjoying more sales were Hyundai (up 6%) and Honda (up 9.6%).
Nissan suffered the biggest decline, down 3.8%, followed by Ford whose sales volumes fell 3.5%.
In terms of individual models, the Toyota Corolla overtook the Mazda3 as our most popular car, with 43,498 new Corollas on the road in 2013, up 12% on the year before.
Motorists continued to favour small cars, as did commercial buyers.
Car sales weren’t helped by government purchases, which were down a significant 20.2%, with 10,291 fewer vehicles sold to federal, state and local governments. This was offset by businesses, who bought 5.9% more SUVs in 5.9.