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Here is some good news and some bad news, sales of light cars have increased, but at the same time sales of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) have also increased. Figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) show that a total of 83,927 cars, trucks and buses were sold last month – down just 0.3 per cent on the total for the month last year.

The results from industry statistician VFACTS show that the Light car segment was again the main driver of the market, with sales up by 1604 vehicles (18.8 per cent) on November 2005.

“The light car boom is undoubtedly one of the major motor vehicle sales stories of 2006,” said FCAI Chief Executive Peter Sturrock.

“Throughout the year the motor industry’s smallest models have been the biggest growth trend, propelled by spiking fuel prices, rising interest rates and the exceptional value and convenience these cars now represent,” he said.

However whilst the light car segment continued to lead, the Small car segment fell by 6.1 per cent – the fourth month in a row that sales in the segment have failed to match the previous year’s volumes. The larger Medium car segment in contrast grew by 8.1 per cent month-on-month.

The Medium car result points to an encouraging swing back to family sedans which has become evident in recent months,” said Mr Sturrock.

“The new, locally-made Camry is selling very well in the Medium segment and above that the new Holden Commodore had another good sales month, plus the new Aurion debuted strongly.”

Surprisingly SUV sales continue to recover with the market up in November by 961 vehicles or 6.6 per cent on the same time last year – the second monthly rise in a row. It amazes me to see the SUV market bouncing back, are we really that naive to think that just because fuel prices have gone down slightly in the last 2 months, that they are not going to go up again soon?

The improving sales of four-wheel drive vehicles is mostly due to growth in the SUV Small segment, where fuel economy is less of a concern,” said Mr Sturrock.

The year-to-date 2006 market of 885,603 vehicles is running below the same period in 2005 by 2.6 per cent or 23,389 vehicles. Mr Sturrock said the industry was looking for a strong result from the traditional end of year retail push in order to take it to the FCAI’s forecast total of 970,000.

“In a year when fuel prices have reached record levels and we’ve had a succession of interest rate rises it’s remarkable that the Australian motor vehicle industry is still likely to finish with its second-best ever sales result.”

Last year analysts were predicting that 2006 will finally break the 1 million sales record, but obviously that is no longer going to happen, and so far no one is brave enough to predict the 1 million sales mark anytime soon. Next year should see the trend continue with strong car sales, but oil prices and interest rates are the key!






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