The reason you’re stuck behind a ute
AUSTRALIANS bought more utes and SUVs in June than any other month in our motoring history - as sales of passenger cars continued to slow, industry figures show.
Utes were the Top Three sellers outright last month - the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton - pushing former favourites the Toyota Corolla, Hyundai i30 and Mazda3 small cars off the podium in the biggest sales month of the year.
Despite aggressive discounting from its main competition Toyota posted an all-time record for the HiLux in June, with the tally of 5787 deliveries topping the previous high in the same month last year.
The top six were closely followed by Australia's two best-selling SUVs the Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4.
The Holden Colorado rounded out the Top 10 - behind the Kia Cerato small car - after bouncing back from a tough start to the year with a record June result.
Experts say ute sales are strong because they are increasingly appealing to family buyers who "treat them like SUVs" thanks to their added creature comforts and improved safety features.
"It used to be the case that the mining boom and construction drove HiLux sales but we're seeing more families buying HiLux than ever before," said a veteran Toyota dealer.
A Ford dealer, who also declined to be named because car companies insist comments to media should come from head office, said: "People often ask us where Falcon buyers went. They went into these (Ranger utes)."
However, it wasn't all good news in June. It was tough going for most major brands as the new-car market appears to have reached critical mass - which means sharp discounts are likely to continue through July.
The number of vehicles reported as sold in June 2018 was down by 2.9 per cent compared with the all-time record set in the same month the year before.
Contrary to perception the figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries are supplied by dealers and manufacturers and "reported as sold" - they are not based on actual registrations and in some cases cars may not be delivered to a paying customer until months later.
Nevertheless, data from the car industry lobby group shows sales of passenger cars such as sedans, wagons and hatchbacks were down by 11.3 per cent (from 230,200 to 204,350) in the first six months of 2018 versus the same period the year prior.
They have been substituted almost one-for-one by SUVs, up 10.7 per cent over the same period (from 233,500 to 258,500).
Utes are also showing continued growth, up 4.7 per cent in the first six months of this year (from 104,250 to 109,150).
Overall, however, the new-car market in June slowed so dramatically that it dragged down the year-to-date growth to just 1 per cent.
It means dealers will be overstocked because most brands budgeted on at least 3 per cent growth this year.
Seven of the Top 10 brands - including the Top Three: Toyota, Mazda and Hyundai - posted sales declines in June.
Mitsubishi, Kia and Honda bucked the trend by posting big gains that amounted to all-time record months.
Mitsubishi was boosted by strong sales of the ASX SUV and Triton ute, Kia had a blinder thanks to its new Cerato sedan and Sportage SUV, while Honda hit its highs on the back of records for its CR-V and HR-V SUVs.
Former favourites Holden and Ford posted sales declines compared with the same month last year. However the June result was the best in six months for Holden and in 12 months for Ford.
The Volkswagen Golf hatch posted its highest tally in more than 12 months but was edged out of the Top 10 by the Holden Colorado ute. However, Volkswagen also cashed in on the ute boom with an all-time record for Amarok sales.
Top 10 selling cars in June 2018
Toyota HiLux - 5787, up 6.0 per cent
Ford Ranger - 4768, down 5.6 per cent
Mitsubishi Triton - 3919, up 30.8 per cent
Toyota Corolla - 3780, down 1.3 per cent
Hyundai i30 - 3547, up 2.2 per cent
Mazda3 - 3327, down 4.7 per cent
Mazda CX-5 - 3136, up 26.1 per cent
Toyota RAV4 - 2690, up 9.3 per cent
Kia Cerato - 2485, up 1.3 per cent
Holden Colorado - 2472, up 2.5 per cent
Top 10 selling brands in June 2018
Toyota - 23,172, down 5.6 per cent
Mazda - 12,469, down 0.3 per cent
Hyundai - 10,437, down 14.8 per cent
Mitsubishi - 10,245, up 10.4 per cent (all-time record)
Ford - 7492, down 15.4 per cent
Holden - 7383, down 20.4 per cent
Kia - 7063, up 4.9 per cent (all-time record)
Honda - 7013, up 29.6 per cent (all-time record)
Nissan - 6606, down 1.3 per cent
Volkswagen - 6334, down 1.8 per cent
Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling