Commodore numbers excite GM
The Holden Commodore has received a timely boost in popularity with its strongest monthly sales performance since September 2011.
Amid heightening uncertainty over government subsidies and General Motors' future placing in Australia, preliminary industry data obtained by Fairfax Media on Friday revealed the Commodore eclipsed 3300 sales in October. The result placed the Commodore as the third-highest-selling car for the month, behind the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3, and helped hand Holden its best monthly finish since October 2009.
The result is a stark contrast to the Commodore's peak in popularity - in 1998, when Holden was selling more than 7500 a month - but is being perceived by the brand as a glowing endorsement of its new VF model, released midyear. Before the launch, Holden was barely breaking 1500 sales a month with its iconic family car. The October result is up 35 per cent on the same period in 2012.
Holden's national sales and marketing director, Philip Brook, said the Australian public had begun renewing interest in the Commodore.
"According to our internal data, Holden has recorded its best October sales since 2009 in what we expect to be a softer market in October, which is a great result," he said.
"In particular, the strength of Commodore sales are fantastic - with 3316 sales that's up 35 per cent year on year and our rich model mix continues."
The Commodore's sales renaissance will be confirmed when the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries releases its official October sales report on Tuesday.
Holden's other locally produced car, the Cruze, didn't fare as well in early numbers, with sales down 15 per cent compared with October 2012. According to year-to-date data, the Cruze ranks fourth overall in passenger sales and the Commodore fifth.
The locally produced Toyota Camry (down 35 per cent) and Ford Territory (down 9 per cent) also experienced a sales drop, adding further fuel to the debate surrounding pre-election proposed changes to how fringe benefits tax was calculated on company cars, prompting the industry to predict a substantial sales slump.
The industry had forecast a resurgence in sales towards the end of the year once the Coalition shelved the proposed changes, but it hasn't eventuated.
Preliminary figures show a continued overall softening of the new-car market during October, but the downturn isn't expected to derail forecasts of a record year in new-car sales. Industry stakeholders say the market is on track for 1.14 million new vehicle sales, up 22,000 units or 2.5 per cent on 2012.
Overall volume reached about 94,000 vehicles for the month of October, which is down about 1.7 per cent on the same period in 2012. But the year-to-date reading is more positive, up about 25,000 vehicles on 2012.
The Toyota Corolla continued to strike a chord with buyers, topping the charts with about 3800 sales, with the Mazda3 second (3600) and Toyota Hilux fourth (3200).
European brands, including Mercedes-Benz and Fiat, are also believed to have had strong months, buoyed by the introduction of new models and wide-reaching marketing campaigns.
Other established brands such as Nissan, Suzuki, Kia and Honda took a hit in sales for October.