New vehicle sales in Australia over the first quarter of 2019 fell 7.9% relative to the same period in 2018, to 265,538 units. This is the lowest Q1 tally since 2014, and marks 12 consecutive months of negative growth.
However, there are some other little tidbits worth covering, which we’ve done here.
Brands bucking a trend
The market's well down, but plenty of car brands are doing okay. Unsurprisingly, the three biggest growth brands by sales are value-oriented, reflecting the slowing economy.
Mitsubishi (up 19.4%, equating to 4084 more cars sold over Q1 this year compared to the same period last year), China's MG (up 1464 units over Q1 last year, or a whopping 581%!) and Kia (up 531 units over Q1 last year, or 3.7%).
Other big growers are a resurgent Volvo (up 38.8%, 507 more sales than Q1, 2018), RAM trucks (419 additional sales up almost 10-fold thanks to the 'new' 1500 ute), Mercedes-Benz Vans (up 375 units or 30%, thanks to the X-Class 4x4 ute), Skoda (up 22.4% on last year's record, equal to 262 extra sales) and Jaguar (up 38.5%, equal to another 199 sales).
Passenger vehicles sold over Q1 this year were 91.3% petrol-powered, 5.2% petrol-electric hybrid and 3.2% diesel. SUVs sold were 74.2% petrol and 25% diesel. Light commercial utes and vans were 93.6% diesel and the rest petrol. EV is a fraction of a per-cent market-wide.
Dig in further and it gets interesting, though. Sales of diesel passenger cars to private buyers are down 47.4% and to business buyers are down 22.6%. Sales of diesel SUVs to private buyers are down 16.8% and to business buyers down 9.2%.
Diesel is clearly seen more and more as the fuel of utes and vans.
Small cars squeezed
Small Cars led by the Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai i30 are still the third most popular vehicle type (after Medium SUVs and Utes), with 16.1% market share this year so far.
However, that has dropped from 18.6% over the Q1, 2018 period. Moreover, sales volumes in the Small Car market have fallen by 20.4%, about triple the market average, to 43,234 units.
At the 'mainstream' end of this market, sales are down 19.5%. Sales of the pricier-but-more-profitable new Toyota Corolla are down 24.6%, the i30 is down 7.8%, the Mazda 3 (new model due soon) down 8.8%, Volkswagen Golf down 23.3%, Honda Civic down 29.7%, and the Holden Astra is down 16.2%. Only the bargain Kia Cerato is up, by 6.2%.
Unsurprisingly, sales of Small SUVs (volumes led by Mitsubishi ASX, Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and Nissan Qashqai) are about even for the year, which in a down market represents a gain in market share.
The top 10 dominate
Much is made of the fragmentation within Australia’s new vehicle market, with more than 70 car and truck companies competing for about 1.15 million annual sales. For context the US sells market is 17-times larger and yet there are fewer options to choose from.
However, the data suggest this is overblown. After all, the top 10 volume players in 2019 so far – in order, Toyota, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Ford, Kia, Nissan, Volkswagen, Honda and Holden – own 76% market share. That means 60-odd brands scrapping for the other quarter.
(This is a rehash). The two biggest State economies are dragging the chain disproportionately. Victoria’s new vehicle sales have fallen 10.5% (equal to 9008 fewer units sold YTD over Q1, 2018) despite a purported strong economy there, while New South Wales sales fell 9.2% (8704 sales).
Queensland (down 5.9%, equal to 3374 units), Western Australia (down 5.8%, 1425), the Australian Capital Territory (down 10.3%, 509) and Northern Territory (down 1.4%, 36 units) are also down.
South Australia (up 0.2% or 41 units) and Tasmania (up 0.3% or 15 units) alone bucked the trend. Indeed, treading water as they have is in reality a bigger gain that it seems considering the overall market situation.
Any questions? Ask us in the comments and we'll answer when we have time.