There’s been a lot of teeth gnashing over the death of the domestically-built Australian Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon. Sure, as enthusiasts, they were examples of a dying breed of sporty RWD sedans. But what’s the market size for sporty RWD sedans in Australia, a country of 24 million, which would rank third in the US, between Texas and Florida?
What a lot of car enthusiasts forget is that the Holden and Falcon didn’t start out to be enthusiast cars; they were mainstream family cars. But in that role, they were eclipsed a long time ago by much better alternatives. Already over ten years ago, the Toyota Corolla was Australia’s #1 choice for retail buyers. And of course, that’s only strengthened since then. Why? Did you have to ask?
Let’s put the Corolla’s absolutely impeccable reliability aside for a minute. How about just its ability to carry 4-5 adults in comfort? Check out these interior dimension stats; except for width, the Corolla equals or exceeds the much bigger and heavier Commodore and Falcon, especially in rear seat leg room. Ever sit in a current generation Corolla? It’s remarkably roomy.
Then of course there fuel efficiency. With gas in Australia selling for some $4.50 USD per gallon, the Corolla (and other top selling FWD cars like the Mazda 3 and such) have it all over the Holden and Falcon.
The simple reality is that RWD sedans painted themselves into a corner, one that was not, and has not been relevant to mainstream Australian car buyers for a long time. To think that a country the size of Australia could support two manufacturers of a dying configuration of RWD sedan is, and has for a long time been absurd.
The same reasons why there’s essentially no more RWD sedans in the US (save the slowly dying Chrysler 300) is why the Camry is the best selling car in the US. Efficiency and reliability invariably trumps, for the average buyer. The old formula of US-style RWD sedans as a family vehicle has been outdated for quite a few decades. The Commodore and Falcon were doomed a long time ago.
Update: here’s the top ten selling vehicles in Australia in 2017:
- Toyota HiLux – 47,093.
- Ford Ranger – 42,728.
- Toyota Corolla – 37,353.
- Mazda3 – 32,690.
- Hyundai i30 – 28,780.
- Mazda CX-5 – 25,831.
- Hyundai Tucson – 23,828.
- Holden Commodore – 23,676.