The national vehicle sales figures for 2015 are out from VFACTS, and they’re not too bad.

Given the economic turmoil from the mining slowdown, iron ore price crash and new European jitters, it’s a sterling performance.

Overall, the light-commercial sector for last year dropped 3.2 per from 2013 while the heavy segment fell just 1.2 per cent.

I can think of many commercial markets that would be happy with that level of pull-back for 2014.

Clearly Australian businesses and contractors are busy and mobile.

Of the 21 brands in the light commercial group, eight achieved five per cent market share or more – Toyota, Ford, Mitsubishi, Holden, Nissan, Mazda, Isuzu Ute and VW, in that order.

The mix of products in those brands has changed significantly.

Ford and Holden’s Aussie utes are in their death throes – losing 41 and 6 per cent respectively -- while their Thai-sourced Ranger and Colorado utes steamed ahead.

The other 13 brands sold only 6.2 per cent of the volume.

The biggest loser in light commercials was Great Wall, which not only was stuck in the bottom 13 but also lost 56 per cent of its volume. In the top eight brands, Nissan took the biggest hit, down 33.5 per cent for the year. Best improver was Citroen but the volume was minor, so the most relevant performance was Isuzu Ute, which grew 19 per cent in the year.

In terms of market segments, buses with less than 20 seats and vans did big business. The vans were all up, especially the light variety, and the buses improved more than 21 per cent. The classic Holden and Ford utes reflected imminent closure — Ford’s version was down nearly 41 per cent while Holden’s ute dropped 5.8 per cent in sales but managed to hold on to market share.

The heavy-commercial sector showed slight improvements in the light and heavy-duty segments, while the medium-duty, the smallest of the truck markets, declined 8.3 per cent. The big Renault Master van made a mess of VW’s Crafter, reversing positions in 2014. Renault ended up with a nearly 8 per cent share, while VW dropped from 4.4 per cent down to 2.3. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and the reborn Foton also made big gains, although Foton’s was from a very low base.

Medium-duty trucks are so competitive that a minor market glitch means a long recovery period. European brands took a bath here. DAF, MAN and Volvo all dropped by more than 40 per cent compared with 2013. But Volvo’s stablemate, Mack, gained a 25 per cent for the year.

In the heavy-duty sector, the stars were Isuzu, with an 89 per cent sales rise, and CAT, with a 61 per cent improvement. MAN and Western Star, both out of the new Penske stable, went down 22 per cent and 31 per cent respectively. Of most concern would be the Western Star position, which was trending down even further in the month of December. Kenworth sales were down 8.6 per cent but the brand is still the king in heavy duty with a market share no one can get close to.

But the gold medal in 2014 has to go to Isuzu. Its clean sweep was broad based. It beat everything in the light and medium-duty segments, and went from seventh in 2013 to third in 2014 in the heavy-duty sector.


© The West Australian

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