Market Place

Half a year in, and a few have a win

Filling the Marchionne void

Sergio Marchionne has stepped down as the head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ferrari, due to health complications following shoulder surgery. In his place, Jeep and Ram boss Mike Manley (left) will pick up the mantle as head of FCA, while Agnelli family progeny John Elkann will take over at the prancing horse. The car giant has now revealed Manley was already lined up to replace Marchionne, who was due to retire at the end of the year. The abrupt restructure ends Marchionne’s 14-year tenure.

JUNE 2018

HIGHLIGHTS: The first half of the year is done and dusted, and there are clear winners among the mainsteam brands. Honda’s sales are up 34% year-to-date, with most of the gain attributed to the CR-V (up 202%) – the Civic is also up 17%. Mitsubishi is up 11 percent with help from Eclipse Cross and ASX, while Isuzu, with the MU-X seven-seater (up 17%) as its only passenger car, is also up 11%. Kia is up 9% on the strength of Picanto (up 79 percent) and Carnival sales (up 14%). Outside the Top 20, Great Wall is up 47% (336 sales plays 228) year-to-date, Alfa Romeo is up 25% and Ferrari is up 19% or 20 cars.

LOWLIGHTS Among the volume sellers Holden has slipped the furthest, at 23%, compared with its 2017 first-half figure, resulting from a halving of Commodore sales, and drops for Trax (-18%) and Astra (-5%). Ford sales are down 10 percent, hurt by softer Mustang, Mondeo, Focus and Fiesta sales.

In the realm of the smaller players, Chery is down 75% – from four sales to one – Fiat is down 45% and Infiniti is down 30%.

HONDA CR-V

Is it the dynamic improvement over the previous version or the availability of a seven-seater that’s sent Honda CR-V sales north? It’s likely a mix of both, with help from the torquey and economical 1.5-litre turbo ... if not the laggy CVT automatic it’s paired with.

WINNER 202% INCREASE

TOYOTA CAMRY

The loss of some government contracts and the absence of the preferential treatment afforded to Toyota by some businesses as a local manufacturer has seen Camry sales slide in the first six months of the better-looking, quicker and more dynamic imported model.

LOSER 57% DECREASE

NISSAN QASHQAI

The big riser in June, Nissan’s Qashqai climbed 12 spots to 9th with 2198 sales – 46 percent more than in June 2017. It was also up 11% YTD, making it the brand’s best performing passenger car ahead of bigger brother the X-Trail (up 6.4% YTD).

MAZDA

With nearidentical YTD sales as in 2017, Mazda maintained its firm grasp on second spot. Sales of CX-5 and CX-9 (941 units) were up on June 2017, and the new CX-8 contributed 156 units in its initial week. Sales of Mazda 6 (405 units) were also up on June 2017.

Incoming

AUGUST-SEPTEMBER

ASTON MARTIN Vantage and DB11 Volante; AUDI A7 Sportback; BMW i8 facelift and i8 Roadster; CHEVROLET Camaro; HYUNDAI Tucson facelift; LAND ROVER Range Rover P400e plug-in hybrid; MAZDA CX-3; MERCEDES-BENZ A-Class; RENAULT Megane RS280; SUBARU Forester; TOYOTA Corolla; VOLKSWAGEN Mk6 Polo Beats and GTI, and Tiguan Allspace

OCTOBER-NOVEMBER

ALPINE A110 coupe; AUDI RS5 Sportback; BENTLEY Continental GT coupe; FORD Focus, Mustang Bullitt and Ranger Raptor; GENESIS G70 and G80 sedans; HOLDEN Acadia; HYUNDAI Ioniq hybrid, plug-in hybrid and EV; JAGUAR I-Pace; MAZDA MX-5 update and CX-9 facelift

Simply clever? Or simply better?

Skoda has topped the latest Roy Morgan customer satisfaction survey. The research, which covers the 12 months to April 2018, and is collated from “in-depth personal interviews” with more than 40,000 car owners, shows that overall satisfaction with car manufacturers in Australia was at 92.6 percent. Skoda rated the highest with new buyers, with a customer satisfaction rating of 97.5 percent, up a significant 5 percent over its score last year. In second was Isuzu Ute, with 96.4 percent satisfaction, ahead of Suzuki (95.3 percent), Mazda (95.2 percent), and Subaru (95.1 percent).

Suzuki Jimny

If the cushy new Mercedes G-Class is too soft for you, then Suzuki has a hardcore alternative. The first new Jimny in 20 years channels a glorious slice of back-tothe-future engineering. An all-new ladderframe chassis, coil-sprung three-link live axles at both ends (with a new steering damper to minimise “road shock”) and a dedicated high/low-range gearbox mean the Jimny will remain an off-roading legend when it lands here at Christmas.

Flat windows, a side-hinged tailgate and round headlights retain the iconic look, while touchscreen multimedia, AEB, and speed-sign recognition keep Jimny fresh.

A new 1.5-litre atmo four (weighing 15 percent less than the old 1.3) will be the sole engine at launch, tied to either a fivespeed manual or four-speed auto.

Ford Focus

Underpinned by a new-generation C2 platform (with either torsionbeam or multi-link rear suspension set-ups), Ford’s fourth-gen Focus will debut here with a broad range of models late in the year. Hailing from its German factory (not Thailand), the Focus’s headline engine will be a new 1.5-litre turbo-petrol three-pot shared with the new-gen Fiesta ST (due 2019), tied to eight-speed automatic or a six-speed manual ’boxes. Likely to be offered in hatch, sedan and wagon bodystyles, as well as a sporting ST-Line variant, Aussie cars will get standard AEB and lane-keep assist.

Hyundai Veloster

Following an unexpectedly successful debut run, Hyundai’s followup Veloster should be here by December, mirroring the i30 and Elantra’s powertrain line-up. That means an entry-level 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four with manual or automatic ’boxes, and an up-spec Veloster Turbo with a 150kW 1.6-litre direct-injection turbo, six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch options, and multi-link independent rear suspension. Nothing concrete on the hot-shot Veloster N though. It’s currently only built in left-hand drive.