Local sales slump, imports surge
The Ford Territory bucked the local industry trend of falling sales.

The start of 2013 has brought mixed fortunes for the industry as we continue to buy cars in record numbers.

Sales of cars, light commercials and trucks were up by more than 11 per cent nationally compared with January last year with only Tasmania and South Australia enjoying stronger growth than WA, where sales were up by just over 13 per cent on last year.

And it is the light commercial sector that continues to be the most robust here with the Toyota HiLux and Nissan Navara the two top- selling vehicles in WA.

Nationally, the Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla small hatches proved to be the most popular.

But it was not the start the local industry was looking for with Holden Commodore, Ford Falcon and Toyota Camry sales all well down.

The only locally built car to buck the trend was the Ford Territory, which enjoyed a healthy 44 per cent growth spurt compared to last January.

While Toyota comfortably retained its overall lead with 13,375 sales, according to official VFACTS figures released this week, the Camry could manage just 557 sales for the month - its slowest start to a year in more than a decade.

The big drop also coincided with the end of Toyota's zero per cent finance deal it was offering on Australian-built models in the latter part of 2012.

The Holden Commodore's fall from grace continued with sales slipping to just 1656, its worst monthly performance since the nameplate was launched in 1978.

Holden will be relying on the new VF Commodore, which will be officially revealed in Melbourne tomorrow, to turn the fortunes around.

If it can't reverse the trend it could spell the end for the Australian-built large car which was the nation's top-selling vehicle for 15 consecutive years before being dislodged by the Mazda3 in 2011.

Sales of Holden's rival large car, the Ford Falcon, slipped by 16.4 per cent to a paltry 778 for the month.

While the local manufacturers struggle, importers had good starts to the year with Nissan sales leaping 35.3 per cent to 7248 units - the most of any month since it gave away local manufacturing in 1991.

Hyundai may have slipped down the sales ladder a position or two but the South Korean importer still had its best January ever with 6816 sales.

Volkswagen also continued to climb in popularity with a 13.6 per cent increase while Honda arrested its sales slump in style with a huge 141 per cent sales improvement with Civic, CR-V, Accord and Jazz sales all well up.

Steve Lague

The West Australian

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