Ominous Signs For Australia's Large Rear-Drive Sedans

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
ominous signs for australia s large rear drive sedans

As dismissive as I tend to be of the internet product-planning brigade, their constant cries of “Bring rear-drive, V8 full-size Aussie sedans to America” may have some credibility – the market for these cars in Australia seems to be going teats up, with SUVs and small cars taking their place.

The Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon are clearly suffering; while they once vied for either of the top two spots, the Commodore is the 5th best selling vehicle in 2012 so far, trailing the Mazda3 by about 6,000 units, while the Falcon doesn’t even merit a spot in the top 10.

Some observers have cited SUVs as a possibly culprit for the demise of the Australian family sedan, but a look at the sales table for both 2011 and 2012 shows that smaller, fuel-efficient cars are eating the lunch of the “Aussie Rules” cars. The Mazda3 bumped the Commodore off a 15-year winning streak in 2011, and the market hasn’t looked back since.

Nameplates like Corolla, Cruze, i30 and Yaris have crept up on the big sedans, and dominated the first half of 2012, along with the venerable Toyota Hilux pickup. The Falcon and its stablemate, the Ford Territory, are nowhere to be found in the Top 10, a bad sign for Ford’s Australian operations.

Australia’s auto industry has been having subsidies pumped into it for a number of years, but things only seem to be getting worse. A journal published by leading Australian industries astutely noted that the Australian market is “…too small for manufacturing; too prosperous to ignore.” The short-term future seems to hold a continued injection of government money into the auto industry – and quite possibly, the demise of the rear-drive Australian sedan.

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  • Sector 5 Sector 5 on Jul 19, 2012

    There be reliable then there be durable..Volvo weren't that reliable but they were durable. Never been to oz guess her to be mostly unpaved outback? Would SUV & front drive be able to take the beating and still be rescueable out @ dingo garage?

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    • Itsnotagsr Itsnotagsr on Jul 20, 2012

      @sportyaccordy A CRV would not stand up to the abuse that "real" SUV owners in the country hand them. Thats why you only see cars/trucks like Hiluxs and Land Cruisers. Durability is more than just having a Japanese badge and faux ground clearance.

  • Dsemaj Dsemaj on Jul 19, 2012

    I guess no one else has considered this - the Commmodore in it's most basic form, has been on the market since 2006, and was the best selling car in the country until this year. It's only had minor updates, but on the whole, you can buy a 2006 which is almost the same as the shiny, new 2012 model. Sure, slightly new headlights, front bumper and a new touchscreen inside, but to your neighbours, it looks exactly the same. I'd like to think that next year when the VF comes along, the Commodore will have a resurgence, but only providing they've got a bag of tricks which makes the car more relevant in today's market - better, more efficient engines and fresh styling.

    • Itsnotagsr Itsnotagsr on Jul 19, 2012

      Whilst that may be a factor, I believe the demographic change to be a more important one. You have whole sections of the community who would rather have a Corolla/Cruise/3 than a Falcon/Commodore as a family car. A new Commodore or Falcon would not change their minds. The reality is that Mullaly is right. You have to be a global player and GM/Ford have locked out their Australian operations from exporting. My guess is because they've received large sums of money from the US taxpayer and therefore its unattractive to import Australian cars when there are empty factories in Detroit and plenty of unemployed workers to fill them.

  • Chicagoland Chicagoland on Jul 20, 2012

    "...what customer base is left to them is the rusted on conservatives resistant to change; the rest view the vehicle as a big heavy thirsty boat, regardless of what is under the hood, and associated with ‘bogans’*;" Change some words and same could be said about the old Crown Vics. Some 'enthusiasts' for some time have been going "bring Falcon here, it will push Japanese cars back". Umm, if it can't succeed in AUS anymore, then it's fading fast. One other trend noticed is most new 'traditional' German cars have AWD optional, and I see many "X" or 'AWD' tags on new BMW's, Infinitis, and Benzes in North Shore burbs of Chicago, i.e. very rich area

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    • El scotto El scotto on Jul 20, 2012

      High end cars with "KNAUZ" license frames.

  • Car_guy2010 Car_guy2010 on Jul 20, 2012

    You know, I don't understand how 'Utes rose to popularity in Australia. That doesn't mean that I don't approve of them. In fact, the Aussies surprise me every time with a car that I wouldn't have heard of otherwise. Add in content from kiwi contributors and Bryce (certainly, you must have heard of him once at another popular site run by a Neidermeyer) and you have a hell of an entertaining site. Bring on that Aussie/Kiwi knowledge, folks! I love to read about what other people are driving halfway across the world from me. It makes me appreciate cars a lot more!