Medium-sized sedans are an endangered species with sales of some surviving models now in the single digits every month.
The Toyota Camry and the Mitsubishi Magna used to regularly dominate the top ten on the monthly vehicle sales charts, during an era two decades ago when Australian-made cars were bestsellers.
Now, just 1.5 per cent of vehicles sold in Australia are a medium car selling for less than $60,000 as SUVs command the road.
Prestige sedans from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Lexus now significantly outsell mid-sized sedans from Hyundai, Mazda, Subaru and Honda – but even German mid-sized luxury cars are under pressure.
Medium-sized sedans are an endangered species with sales of some surviving models now in the single digits every month. The Subaru Levorg managed just two sales in February – down from 29 a year earlier
In a crowded market, medium cars struggle to find a home with Ford in Australia last year discontinuing the European Mondeo – with only one sold in February.
Kia last year stopped importing the Optima sedan with none sold last month compared with a dismal 23 in February 2020.
Subaru last year also discontinued the Liberty after 31 years in Australia, with 37 of the remaining ones sold last month.
The ageing Levorg, the other medium car in Subaru’s range, did even worse with just two sold last month – down from 29 a year earlier for a model that isn’t yet facing the axe as Subaru buyers overwhelmingly preferred the Forester SUV which had 1,009 sales.
The Japanese car company had some supply issues as a result of the Covid shutdowns, with German manufacturers more affected.
Hyundai managed to sell just five Sonatas in February, just a fifth of the 26 that left showrooms a year earlier for a model first sold in Australia in 1989.
Honda sold a mere 12 Accords, but that’s at least one better than the 11 exchanged in February 2020 for a car model name that has been around since 1976
Unhappy medium: car models just not selling
Ford Mondeo: one
Kia Optima: zero
Subaru Levorg: two
Subaru Liberty: 37
Hyundai Sonata: five
Honda Accord: 12
Peugeot 508: five
Volkswagen Passat: 17
Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries February 2021 sales data
Honda sold a mere 12 Accords, but that’s at least one better than the 11 exchanged in February 2020 for a car model name that has been around since 1976.
European medium cars struggled too with just five Peugeot 508s sold, a sixth of the 30 tally a year earlier.
Volkswagen sold only 17 Passats – a quarter of the 73 leaving finding a home in February last year.
Motoring expert Toby Hagon, the editor of EV Central, said that outside of China, medium-sized cars were losing favour with motorists as they switched to SUVs.
‘Certainly, mid-sized sedans globally have come under pressure,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘You’ll find more brands evaluating whether it’s worth doing a mid-sized sedan globally.
‘Car companies have to think a lot way ahead – not what the demand’s like today, they have to look six, eight, ten years down the track.’
Sales of almost every medium car were weaker last month compared with the same time in early 2020 before the World Health Organisation declared a Covid pandemic.
Even the better selling ones were affected with Mazda6 sales falling by 36 per cent to 101 from 157.
Motoring expert Toby Hagon, the editor of EV Central, said outside of China, medium-sized cars were losing favour with motorists as they switched to SUV and would see car companies evaluate the need for a global sedan. Ford last year discontinued selling the Mondeo
Toyota Camry sales fell by 31 per cent to 1,001 from 1,445 but its market share in the sub-$60,000 medium car category rose from 70.6 per cent to 78.8 per cent, a level it never achieved three decades ago when the Mitsubishi Magna, the Nissan Pintara and Ford Telstar were made in Australia.
‘If you look at Toyota Camry, it’s still a very big seller,’ Mr Hagon said.
‘It has a lot of cut-through with fleets so there’s still a lot of interest in those cars.’
In an era where SUVs now comprise the majority of new car sales, European prestige brands sell significantly more medium cars that the likes of Hyundai, Subaru and Mazda.
Mercedes Benz C-Class sales climbed in the February to 343, up 23 per cent from 278 but in years gone by more than 700 of these luxury sedans were selling every month.
Mercedes Benz C-Class sales climbed in the February to 343, up 23 per cent from 278 but in years gone by more than 700 of these luxury sedans were selling
Lexus IS sales doubled to 147 from 52 while Audi A4 sales also doubled to 79 from 37.
BMW sold 124 of its 3-Series, a 55 per cent drop from 278 sold a year earlier, but even then, its sales tally was better than every medium car under $60,000 except the Toyota Camry.
Mr Hagon said that even within the German prestige brands, buyers were also switching from medium luxury sedans to SUVs, like the BMW X3 and the Mercedes-Benz G-series wagons.
‘There’s a stronghold there where people still like a BMW 3-Series, a Mercedes-Benz C-Class, an Audi A4, there’s still that prestige and that love of those mid-sized luxury vehicles,’ he said.
‘That said, the demand for those is waning. People are substituting those mid-sized prestige brands for SUVs as well.’