Positive signs for new vehicle sales

Strong ute and 4x4 sales have industry sensing green shoots.

Amid encouraging signs that Australia’s coronavirus-battered economy might be turning the corner, sales of new vehicles in October lifted strongly to finish only slightly down on their 2019 performance. 

While a decline of 1.5% 2019 sales would normally be seen as a poor result, in this extraordinary year where monthly new vehicle sales have been consistently down by double digits, the figures have been described as “green shoots” by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI). 

Meanwhile, the FCAI reported earlier this month that new vehicle sales figures for October 2020 of 81,220 were down just 1236 units or 1.5% from October 2019 when 82,456 vehicles were sold.

Chief executive of the FCAI Tony Weber said the results were welcome news for the automotive industry.

“After a very challenging year, we are seeing ‘green shoots’ in the Australian new vehicle market,” Mr Weber said.

“Every state and territory except Victoria and Tasmania have seen significant growth and, given the circumstances, Victoria’s result is seen as encouraging.”

Despite the more upbeat assessment, year-to-date figures still show the market is down 18.8% when compared with the same period in 2019, with 726,111 sales versus last year’s 893,920.

Mr Weber said the results marked the 31st month of decreasing sales for the industry but said October’s figures gave the industry hope of further recovery during the coming months.

“Nationally the state of industry operations is returning to normal as COVID-19 restrictions ease,” he said.

“Additionally, government initiatives such as a constructive budget that included the instant asset write-off, along with more accessible finance for consumers, is also acting as a welcome stimulus for the industry.”

During the month 17,794 passenger vehicles were sold, representing 21.9% of the total market, down 24.5% from October 2019. 

SUVs claimed 50.8% of the market with a total of 41,220 sales, up 6.7% from October 2019. 

Light commercial vehicles claimed 23.6% of the market with 19,152 sales, up 11.6% from October 2019.

The strong performance by the light commercial and SUV sectors was especially impressive with the former led by newly released or updated versions of the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Isuzu D-Max, all of which lifted strongly on their 2019 sales. 

But it was the Toyota RAV4 that was again the star performer in the top 10, its 4084 sales ranking third outright behind the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger respectively but marking a near 92% increase on its 2019 sales. 

Electrified vehicles also experienced a surge during the month, more than doubling their total sales compared with October 2019 which Mr Weber said indicated Australian consumers were willing to explore new drivetrain technologies.

Toyota was the top-selling brand for the month with 19,505 sales followed by Mazda (7457), Hyundai (5951), Ford (5744) and Kia (5304).

The top five selling models for the month were the Toyota HiLux with 4444 sales, Ford Ranger (4217), Toyota RAV4 (4084), Toyota LandCruiser (2429) and Toyota Prado (2207).