WHAT happened to Triton?

The popular Mitsubishi ute came from nowhere to claim third spot on the national sales charts in February and March, but failed to figure in the top 10 in April.

Irrespective, the auto industry’s decline continued last month, with an 8.9 per cent decrease on April 2018.

Passenger vehicles totalled 23,816 sales, SUV sales amounted to 33,190 and light commercial vehicles to 15,601.

Toyota was again the most successful brand overall, followed by Mazda, Hyundai, Ford and Mitsubishi.

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries’ Tony Weber blamed the fourth successive decline on the downturn in the housing market, the tightening of lending practices, factors such as drought and flood and the upcoming general election.

The top 10 sellers of April were Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, LandCruiser, Hyundai i30, Mazda CX-5, Toyota Prado and Hyundai Tucson.

Triton dropped to fifth among the pickups.

It was a dismal month for most brands, but there were some notable exceptions.

The big RAM found 156 buyers to record a massive 817 per cent leap over its 17 sales in April 2018, Skoda sales were up 38 per cent, Lotus sold 9 cars for a 200 per cent jump and MG, Aston Martin, Great Wall, Haval, Lamborghini, McLaren, Porsche and Volvo — all had good gains.

Kia Picanto remained king of the micro class, with four times the combined sales of Fiat 500 and Mitsubishi Mirage and the light sector was led by Hyundai Accent from Toyota Yaris  and Mazda 2.

Toyota Corolla topped the small category, Mercedes A-Class the premium small and Camry stayed well in front in the medium sector.

Large was led by Holden’s German Commodore from Kia Stinger and Skoda Superb and Kia Carnival was by far the most popular people mover.

Among the small SUVs, Mazda CX-3 and Hyundai Kona finally got past Mitsubishi’s ASX, and Mazda CX-5 was the top medium SUV seller.

Toyota’s Prado and Kluger dominated the large class.

However, the tide seems to have turned slightly in South Africa — which is also heading for a May general election — where the overall new vehicle market recorded 0.7 per cent improvement over the same month last year.

Topping the charts there were Toyota Hilux, VW Polo Vivo, Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max and Toyota Quantum.

However, the real champion was export sales, which improved by 53.8 percent year-on year, to total 33,090.

That’s virtually line-ball with domestic sales.

The nation has a flourishing car building industry which exports many models, primarily Mercedes C-Class, Ford Ranger, BMW X3, VW Polo and HiLux to its main markets: UK, US, France, Japan, Turkey, Germany, Australia, Poland, Italy and Ghana.

Australia, with its vehicle manufacturing reduced to zero, is sadly missing out.

RAM . . . a star performer

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Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.
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