Buyers have hit the brakes for 13 months in a row but experts now say sales are expected to recover in the second half of the year.
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Regardless of who wins the upcoming Federal election, new-car sales are expected to surge in the second half of this year – following the longest slump since the Global Financial Crisis in 2008-2009.

Official car sales figures show April, the 13th month in a row in negative territory, took the biggest hit with eight of the top 10 brands posting significant declines.

However, Sean Hanley, sales and marketing boss of Toyota – Australia’s biggest car brand for the past 16 consecutive years – is confident the market will recover.

“Regardless of who wins (the federal election) it will only stimulate the market because certainty is always a confidence builder,” said Mr Hanley. “It doesn’t matter who wins government, certainty is a stimulant to the market.”

History shows new-car sales always slow down in the lead-up to a Federal election because consumers are worried about potential new taxes and changes to cost-of-living expenses.

“We’re forecasting a market of 1.1 million sales this year,” said Mr Hanley. “No doubt the Federal election will have some impact, and I think we’ll feel that in May (but) certainly June we’re expecting will be apretty good month and I think the second half of the year will be stronger than the first half of the year.”

Six of the past nine years have been sales records, and the 1.1 million mark was eclipsed for the first time in 2012.

Toyota believes the Australian new-car market will “settle to around 1.1 million, down 7 to 8 per cent on last year”.

It means buyers looking for a bargain may want to get in early. If demand increases in the second half of the year as predicted, some brands may run out of certain models and options because they have reduced their factory orders over the past 12 months.

“Our market forecast is pretty spot on in terms of our production order,” said Mr Hanley. "Having too many cars in the field come November and December is totally unhealthy for the business but good for the customer.”

New car sales results

  • 2018: 1,153,111
  • 2017: 1,189,116 (record)
  • 2016: 1,178,133 (record)
  • 2015: 1,155,408 (record)
  • 2014: 1,113,224
  • 2013: 1,136,227 (record)
  • 2012: 1,112,032 (record)
  • 2011: 1,008,437
  • 2010: 1,035,574 (record)

Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.