Segment sales dominators, Tassie’s growth, hybrids up, plus both niche Euros and some Chinese brands on the move

The Australian new vehicle market has cooled off this year, down ever so slightly to 786,294 units as of the end of August.

While you can read our latest monthly wrap in all its detail here, here are five smaller factoids that grabbed this writer’s eye from the year’s eighth month.

Segment dominators:

Sales figures, called VFACTS, break the market up into various segments of similar vehicles. Most segments are closely fought, but a few cars generally dominate their little corner.

In August the Kia Picanto’s 357 sales gave it 74 per cent of the Micro Car class, with rivals such as the Suzuki Celerio, Holden Spark and Nissan Micra all now discontinued.

The imported Toyota Camry managed 1604 sales, 57 per cent of its Medium Car Under $60k segment, with the closest rival being the Mazda 6 (10 per cent).

In the same ballpark, the new Holden Commodore’s 682 sales gave it more than 78 per cent share of the Large Car Under $70k class, ahead of the Kia Stinger on 14 per cent and Skoda Superb on 7.0 per cent.

The Kia Carnival is far and away the nation’s number one people mover, with 578 sales in August equating to 57 per cent share, way ahead of the Honda Odyssey on almost 13 per cent.

The Ford Mustang’s 736 sales equated to more than 69 per cent of the Sports Car Under $80k class, which has become a familiar ratio for the Pony Car.

On the SUV side, the Toyota LandCruiser 70- and 200-Series wagons owned 90 per cent of the segment in the Upper Large Under $100k space, with the only rival being Nissan’s Patrol. Above $100k, the Mercedes-Benz GLS’s 65 per cent share was dominant, against the Range Rover and Lexus LX.

Tasmania on the up:

The island state grew 12.2 per cent in sales during August, to 1726 vehicles. The only other regions to grow at all were South Australia (up 1.5 per cent) and Victoria (up 0.5 per cent).

The top-selling cars there were the Mitsubishi ASX, Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Outlander and Subaru Forester (Subie enjoys significant market share in Tasmania).

Tassie is also the fastest-growing state in the sales race this year, up 5.3 per cent to 12,452. Of course, that’s from a small base: sales in New South Wales over the same period were 255,369…

Hybrid passenger cars beat diesel:

Passenger car sales are losing out to SUVs more and more as each month passes, but petrol-electric hybrids are going in the other direction — thanks to Toyota.

In August, 325 private buyers opted for a hybrid passenger car (up 80 per cent), compared for context to diesel passenger cars (222, down 47 per cent). In the fleet space, the figures were 847 (up 35 per cent) against 802 (down 230 per cent).

More than 40 per cent of new Camry sales are the hybrid, while about one-in-five new Corollas sold are projected to be petrol-electric. Lexus is also making good ground.

Niche Euros on the up

A trio of smaller-scale (in Australia) European brands had ripping months, growing by double-digit percentages.

Volvo Car was most impressive, up 84% to 689 units, carried by the impressive new XC40 (266) and XC60 (252) SUV models, and the larger XC90 with 108. The Swedish company is up 34% for the year, too.

Skoda is also doing well despite stock supply issues, up 28% to 625 for August and up 15% to 4030 for the year to date. Its monthly highlights were the Octavia (183) and Kodiaq (an impressive 161), ahead of the Fabia (107), Rapid and Superb (62 each), and Karoq (50).

Finally, Alfa Romeo shot up 31% for the month and is up 28% for the year, to 126 and 882 units respectively. In August its Giulia sedan grabbed 63 sales, ahead of the new Stelvio SUV on 40.

Chinese brands still growing

We’ve covered this a bit, but Australia’s Chinese marques are gaining a foothold.

Both LDV and MG, which belong to the SAIC group from Shanghai, are getting results. LDV managed 513 sales in August (up 190%) thanks to the T60 ute with 318 and G10 van with 113, while MG’s 332 units (up 578%!) included 184 sales of its slick little ZS crossover.

Great Wall also managed 71 monthly sales, up 145% from a low, low base, though its Haval SUV sister brand’s 54 sales represented a 39% drop.