Records broken as new car sales rebound

A shortage of computer chips and the blockage of Suez Canal has failed to dampen our appetite for new vehicles, with April new car sales setting a record high.

In a further sign the Australian economy is emerging strongly from last year’s COVID-induced slumber, Australian new vehicle sales set a record high for the month of April.

The result was the highest-selling April on record and the sixth consecutive month of new vehicle sales growth, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).

The organisation’s monthly figures showed April new vehicle sales were a strong 92,347, compared with just 38,926 in the corresponding month last year. The result is also up an impressive 22% on April 2019, highlighting the strength of the recovery in new vehicle sales.  

Year to date, sales are up 30.7% compared with 2020, with 355,995 sales this year compared with 272,287 in 2020, with growth recorded in all segments.

Leading the charge over the same month last year was the sports utility market, up by 31,154 vehicles (172.9%), followed by the light commercial market, up by 12,278 vehicles (130.1%), and the passenger vehicle market, which is up by 8906 vehicles (97.2%).
 
FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber said confidence in the new vehicle market was high and could be expected to continue to grow through the remainder of the year.

“New vehicles sales are a direct reflection of the performance of the broader economy in terms of consumer and business confidence,” Mr Weber said. 

“This time last year we were seeing significant impacts from COVID-19 with less customer activity and inquiries to dealerships.

“Historically the April result is between 70,000 and 80,000 vehicles, so the 2021 result is very significant. This sales trend is expected to continue as we enter the final two months of the financial year.”

However, two possible dampeners on our appetite for new cars are supply chain constraints, including the global shortage of semiconductors, which are crucial to the operating systems of practically every new vehicle; and shipping issues related to delays caused by the temporary blockage of the Suez Canal.

“Every vehicle company is focused on solving the issues caused by these impacts and they are working with customers to keep them fully informed regarding supply issues and delivery dates,” Mr Weber said.

“It is possible there is pent-up market demand which may be reflected in sales figures in the second half of 2021 as solutions are found to these issues.”

Toyota was once again market leader (20,208) followed by Mazda (10,052), Mitsubishi (7513), Ford (7146) and Hyundai (5772).

The Ford Ranger ute was the top-selling individual model (5021) followed by the Toyota RAV4 (4506), Toyota HiLux (4222), Toyota LandCruiser (3177) and Mitsubishi Triton (2,458).

Among the less high-profile brands that performed strongly, Volvo Car Australia's impressive 794 April sales represents a 176% increase compared with to 12 months ago, while its year-to-date sales are up by nearly 84% after four successive months of growth.

The Swedish brand’s XC40 and XC60 models ranked second and third respectively in the small and medium size SUV categories in the highly competitive luxury SUV segment.  

Volvo Car Australia Managing Director Stephen Connor said the brand was on track to crack 10,000 vehicles sales for the first time in 2021, with its first all-electric model, the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric due in Q3.

Japanese car maker Subaru also had a strong April with sales of 3451 vehicles representing a 47.7% year-to-date increase on its 2020 performance. 

Leading the charge was the Subaru Forester with a best-ever April of 1327 vehicle (+39.4% YTD), followed by the new generation Outback which had another strong month with 1041 sales (+154.4% YTD), making it the second best-seller in the under $70k large SUV category.

 Rank Vehicle April '21 April '20 % diff.
 1  Ford Ranger  5021  1540  226.0
 2  Toyota RAV4  4506  1911  135.8
 3  Toyota  HiLux  4222  2339  80.5
 4  Toyota LandCruiser  3177  1603  98.2
 5  Mitsubishi Triton  2458  469  424.1
 6  Mazda CX-5  2353  648  263.1
 7  Toyota Corolla  2073  1195  73.5
 8  Mitsubishi ASX  2028  348  482.8
 9  Hyundai i30  2005  695  188.5
 10  Isuzu Ute D-Max  1999  760  163.0