Audi had a year it would rather forget after being hamstrung by supply of new models due to certification delays out of Europe, while German rivals BMW and Mercedes weathered the 2019 storm by holding their own in a declining market.
The other surprise to come from the luxury-car sector was Japan’s Lexus, which posted its best result since being established in Australia 29 years ago.
Official figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries show overall new-car sales in 2019 fell to their lowest levels in eight years after a 21-month slump – down 7.8 per cent to 1,062,867 – the biggest slowdown since the Global Financial Criss a decade ago.
Audi sales were down by 19.1 per cent compared to the prior year (to 15,708 vehicles reported as sold) while arch rival BMW posted a modest gain (up 1.1 per cent to 23,055) and Mercedes dipped (by 0.7 per cent to 31,985).
Meanwhile, British brands Jaguar and Land Rover did it tough, posting declines of 15.1 per cent (to 2274) and 12.0 per cent (to 8879) respectively, despite introducing new or revised models throughout the year.
Against this backdrop Lexus rose sharply (up 9.0 per cent to 9612) driven by the rollout of new or revised SUV models which accounted for 80 per cent – or four out of every five – of the brand’s sales last year.
However, Lexus sales are still at about half the rate of Audi and BMW, and one-third the rate of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars.
The car industry is forecasting another tough year and currency pressures are likely to prompt prices rises mid-way through 2020.