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Our former favourites hit a new low in 2018 as buyers favoured Japanese and Korean cars.

Holden and Ford have wound back the clock more than half a century, posting their lowest sales since 1961 and 1966 respectively, according to official figures for 2018 released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

Holden sold 60,751 vehicles in 2018 compared to 58,710 in 1961, while Ford sold 69,081 vehicles last year versus 68,520 in 1966, according to historical figures from Australian Automotive Intelligence which has archived Bureau of Statistics data.

The 2018 results are a stark contrast for what were Australia’s Top Two automotive brands for most of the past half century – and a sign of how vastly our car market has changed.

In the 1960s, Australians bought an average of 400,000 cars a year and there were fewer than a dozen mainstream brands; today’s car market has grown to more than 60 brands competing for about 1.1 million sales.

Both Ford and Holden are now outside the Top Four, slipping to fifth and sixth place respectively – after Mitsubishi posted record sales to place fourth behind Toyota, Mazda and Hyundai.

As CarAdvice reported exclusively earlier this week, in 2018 Ford overtook Holden for the first time in 21 years.

Holden struggled across the board, with slow take-up of the imported Commodore while the Astra small car and Equinox SUV are also yet to meet sales expectations.

The Colorado ute and Trailblazer four-wheel-drive twins were even outsold by models produced by Holden’s former joint venture partner Isuzu, which has a much smaller dealer network.

While the Toyota HiLux set an all-time record for a ute – and was the first vehicle to eclipse 50,000 sales in 10 years – the Isuzu D-Max ute (18,550) overtook the Holden Colorado for the first time ever (18,301) after Colorado sales fell 15 per cent and Isuzu had a strong finish to the year, posting its 10th year in a row of continuous growth.

The Isuzu MU-X four-wheel-drive (9090) coasted to an easy win in the ute-derived off-roader class, ahead of Mitsubishi Pajero Sport (6566), Ford Everest (5482), Toyota Fortuner (3592) and Holden Trailblazer (2606).

Ford’s sales surge after its 2016 factory shutdown – driven by Ranger and Mustang – subsided in 2018 as demand for both models flattened, although Ranger still managed to hang onto second place outright ahead of the Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3 and Hyundai i30 small cars, which rounded out the Top Five.

The sharp sales declines in 2018 for Holden (down 32.7 per cent) and Ford (down 11.6 per cent) occurred despite bold retail campaigns – including Holden’s $500 test drive challenge – and both brands boosting their warranty coverage to five years/unlimited kilometres.

A statement from Holden said: “Holden has its best and most comprehensive vehicle portfolio ever, including a highly competitive range of SUVs from GM’s global operations.We are making progress and remodeling the company to put the emphasis where the market is and that is around SUVs and (utes). With the launch of Acadia we now have the portfolio that we need to tackle this part of the market.”

A statement from Ford said: “In 2018, Ranger was the second most sold vehicle in the country and the introduction of refreshed models including the new Ranger Raptor should continue to drive sales in 2019. The all-new Endura and Focus were launched late in 2018 and with the refreshed Everest and new Escape ST-Line, we are coming in to 2019 with the very latest vehicles and available technologies.”



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