Our Holden love affair is over
AUSTRALIANS have fallen out of love with Holden less than six months after closing its local car factory.
Holden slipped to 10th place on the sales charts in March - its lowest ranking since 1948 - representing just one in 20 new cars sold.
Back in its heyday Holden accounted for almost one in every two cars sold, and led the Australian car market for more than three decades. Holden was last Number One 16 years ago, in 2002.
March was the third month in a row Holden did not have a single vehicle model inside the Top 10 sellers list.
The tally of 990 sales for the imported Holden Commodore is less than half that of the locally-made model from the same month last year, while the Equinox SUV is selling at a third of the rate of the superseded Captiva.
And Isuzu outsold its former partner Holden in the ute and heavy-duty 4WD categories in March.
As a sign of just how rapidly our tastes are changing Holden was beaten by Toyota, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Ford, Nissan, Honda, Subaru and Volkswagen.
South Korean car maker Kia came within 32 sales of overtaking Holden for the month - unimaginable just a few years ago.
Holden says its sales will hit top gear once a raft of new models hit showrooms later in the year, including the HSV Colorado SportsCat ute, the Chevrolet Camaro sports-car, the GMC Acadia seven-seat SUV, and the Chevrolet Silverado full-size pick-up.
Holden's dramatic drop comes as most of the big brands hit a headwind in March and posted modest sales slides as buyers continue their switch to utes and SUVs.
Utes filled three of the top four sales spots; the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger maintained their first and second places, while the Mitsubishi Triton pulled up in fourth.
Small cars such as the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3 were the third and fifth bestsellers respectively, but sales of both were down compared with the same month last year.
Compact SUVs such as the Nissan X-Trail, Mitsubishi ASX, Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4 rounded out the Top 10 behind the sixth place Hyundai i30 hatch.
Overall, almost 107,000 vehicles were reported as sold last month - a March record - according to figures supplied by the car industry lobby group, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).
Contrary to perception, new-car sales figures in Australia are not based on vehicle registrations but on claims made by car companies with figures supplied to the FCAI.
The FCAI says cars are not counted twice - but in some cases they may not be registered or delivered to a paying customer until months later.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics publishes new-car sales data in the middle of every month, but it is the same data supplied by the FCAI.
Top 10 new cars sold in March 2018
Toyota HiLux - 4348, up 2.4 per cent
Ford Ranger - 4064, up 5.7 per cent
Toyota Corolla - 3218, down 10 per cent
Mitsubishi Triton - 3109, up 16.4 per cent
Mazda3 - 2780, down 8.5 per cent
Hyundai i30 - 2719, up 14.1 per cent
Nissan X-Trail - 2504, up 40.7 per cent
Mitsubishi ASX - 2337, up 68.9 per cent
Mazda CX-5 - 2261, up 6.9 per cent
Toyota RAV4 - 1952, up 4.7 per cent
Top 10 brands in March 2018
Toyota - 18,878, down 3.9 per cent
Mazda - 9723, down 7.2 per cent
Mitsubishi - 8810, up 16.2 per cent
Hyundai - 8443, down 3.0 per cent
Ford - 6687, down 2.4 per cent
Nissan - 6191, up 10.2 per cent
Honda - 5586, up 79.8 per cent
Subaru - 5195, up 3.8 per cent
Volkswagen - 5137, up 0.3 per cent
Holden - 5116, down 29.1 per cent
Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling