Tracking the new kids on the block: the rising star cars of 2020

Charting the sales success of every new model that was released in Australia so far this year.

Introducing an entirely new nameplate to an established – and, some would argue, saturated – Australian new-car market carries an inherent risk. With a multitude of choices already on offer, any new model needs to offer a compelling package to take on the already established nameplates within a segment.

This year, despite the obvious difficulties 2020 has presented car makers and us, the buying public, we’ve seen 14 new nameplates hit local dealerships while a further two reborn models returned to our shores.

In terms of strike rate, leading the way is the Mazda CX-30, the Japanese brand’s challenge to the small SUV segment. With 6927 sales so far in 2020, the CX-30 has snared a 9.2 per cent share of the segment and is the fourth-best selling vehicle in class behind the evergreen Mitsubishi ASX, and the Korean duet of Hyundai Kona and Kia Seltos. Designed to fit into Mazda’s line-up between the CX-3 and CX-5, the CX-30 has clearly hit a sweet spot with buyers.

The second-most successful new nameplate for Australia hails from China, combining a feature packed offering with sharp pricing. Chinese-owned MG Motors has enjoyed a stellar sales year in 2020, up 67.8 per cent year-on-year with 11,308 sales so far against 2019’s 6740 for the same period.

Of that, MG’s new mid-size SUV, the MG HS has racked up 2137 sales to the end of October, according to VFACTS. While that’s not in the same league as the runaway best-seller in the segment, Toyota’s RAV4 with 31,195 sales over the same period, the MG HS has outsold plenty of rivals from more established brands – Renault Koleos (1571), Skoda Karoq (1030), Ford Escape (1128) – as well as gaining bragging rights over Chinese rival, Haval which has sold 701 H6s over the same period.

Volkswagen scores the bronze medal when it comes to all new models for 2020, its compact T-Cross crossover notching up 1936 sales to the end of October. That represents almost 10 per cent of the light SUV segment which continues to be dominated by Mazda’s CX-3 (11,058 sales), which enjoys an astonishing 50.7 per cent share of the segment. Underscoring just how dominant Mazda is in the segment, the second-best selling light SUV is Hyundai’s Venue with 3099 units shifted to the end of October.

And love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no question the appetite for four-door ‘coupes’ is there, certainly if we take BMW’s 2 Series Gran Coupe as a yardstick. Since hitting local dealerships earlier this year, BMW has sold a remarkable 1166 of the sloping-roofed four-door, easily outstripping sales of the regular 2 Series coupe and convertible which have enjoyed combined sales of 517 so far in 2020. A success by any measure the Bavarian brand, then.

Of the returning nameplates, Land Rover Defender has enjoyed a decent start to its campaign with 292 sales to the end of October. Of particular note is that for the month of October, the Defender, with 73 sales outsold all other Land Rover product bar the Range Rover Sport (97), again highlighting how important the success of the reborn model is to the brand.

And SsangYong, the other, other Korean brand relaunched in Australia after a hiatus, has sold 176 Korandos, barely putting a dent in the medium SUV segment. But, as MG has shown, with sharp pricing and plentiful standard equipment, there is a thirst out there for affordable SUVs. Brand awareness will be the key though, if SsangYong is to succeed, something MG has done remarkably well since relaunching in 2017.

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