A dire month of dipping sales once again, as car brands scramble to overcome hurdles and adjust to a new reporting system
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The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has released VFACTS new car sales data for January, and the results don’t look pretty. The peak body recorded 71,731 sales, down 12.5 per cent over January in 2019, which was itself the worst sales-year since 2011.

However, it would be safe to cite extenuating circumstances, not least the devastating bushfires that have naturally taken precedence for many people over buying that new car, plus drought, coronavirus, and hailstorms.

Plus, what is seen by banks, the RBA, and research firms as a flat economy.

But perhaps more relevant to this audience, the FCAI also commenced a new reporting process designed to stamp out the OEM and dealer practice of reporting cars as sold when they are not to hit stretch targets.

This process compares data supplied by car companies with national registration databases.

For a far more in-depth look at this new system, why it has been enacted, and why the dealer body’s representative organisation is happy about it, read this.

“Given the broad range of environmental, financial, international and political issues facing Australia during January, it is no surprise to see the new vehicle market has reported a conservative start to the year,” said the FCAI’s CEO Tony Weber, with no small dose of understatement.

We won’t spend much time comparing this January to last, until we have more months using this new model to get a sense of its impact, we will point out that every State and Territory suffered, not least the biggest three: NSW (down 12.2 per cent), Victoria (down 14.7 per cent), and Queensland (down 13 per cent).

Brands

Toyota was market leader with 14,809 sales and 20.6 per cent market share. Mazda claimed second place with 6695 sales, followed by Hyundai with 5443 sales, Mitsubishi with 5108 sales, and Kia with 4705 sales (6.6 per cent share).

Kia’s sales actually grew by 1.2 per cent, unlike the other top 13 brands in the market.

Next was Ford with 4169 sales, Nissan with 3444 sales, Honda with 3436, Volkswagen with 3246, Holden on 2641, and Subaru with 2250.

At the premium end of the market, BMW beat Mercedes-Benz Cars with 1931 sales versus 1858 (the table below includes MB Vans), while Audi recorded 1448 but grew an impressive 12.9 per cent after a poor 2019.

Rounding out the top 25 were Suzuki on 1237, Isuzu Ute on 1120, MG on 919, Lexus with 723, Land Rover with 619, Volvo Car with 553, Skoda with 540, Renault on 420, Porsche with 410, Jeep on 387, and LDV with 384.

Note: Full table listing every brand at the bottom of the story.

Models

The Toyota HiLux again claimed the title of Australia’s best-selling vehicle with 2968 sales, closely followed by the Ford Ranger with 2624.

Australia’s third favourite vehicle during January was the Toyota Corolla with 2370 sales, followed by the Toyota RAV4 with 2290 sales and the Mitsubishi Triton with 2075 sales.

Here's a breakdown of the top three sellers in each vehicle segment, including the brand new 'Light SUV' segment.

Passenger vehicles

Micro (414, down 25.7 per cent): Kia Picanto (331), Mitsubishi Mirage (46), Fiat 500 (37)
Light < $25k (3763, down 35.4 per cent): Toyota Yaris (892), Kia Rio (509), MG 3 (495)
Light > $25k (22, down 23.6 per cent): Mini (138), Audi A1 (77), Citroen C3 (3)
Small < $40k (10,315, down 25.5 per cent): Toyota Corolla (2370), Hyundai i30 (2038 + 178 Elantra sedans), Kia Cerato (1500)
Small > $40k (872, down 17 per cent): Mercedes-Benz A-Class (357), BMW 1 Series (208), Audi A3 (188)
Medium < $60k (1551, down 23.7 per cent): Toyota Camry (1032), Skoda Octavia (177), Mazda 6 (142)
Medium > $60k (962, down 29.2 per cent): BMW 3 Series (294), Mercedes-Benz C-Class (271), Audi A5 Sportback (87)
Large < $70k (393, down 33.3 per cent): Holden Commodore (268), Kia Stinger (105), Skoda Superb (20)
Large > $70k (135, down 52.8 per cent): BMW 5 Series (53), Mercedes-Benz E-Class (45), Maserati Ghibli (7)
Upper Large (84, up 35.5 per cent): Chrysler 300 (28), BMW 8 Series GC (15), BMW 7 Series (14)
People Movers (805, down 15.6 per cent): Kia Carnival (353), Honda Odyssey (126), Volkswagen Multivan (80)
Sports < $80k (578, down 18.7 per cent): Ford Mustang (258), BMW 2 Series (101), Hyundai Veloster (75)
Sports > $80k (284, down 24.1 per cent): Mercedes-Benz C-Class (109), BMW 4 Series (30), Audi A5/BMW Z4 (25)
Sports > $200k (118, up 2.6 per cent): Porsche 911 (47), Ferrari range (28), Bentley coupe range (9)

SUVs

Light SUV (2291, up 9.6 per cent): Mazda CX-3 (1322), Holden Trax (474), Hyundai Venue (298)
Small SUV < $40k (7558, up 5.3 per cent): Mitsubishi ASX (1252), Honda HR-V (897), Nissan Qashqai (832)
Small SUV > $40k (1534, up 30.6 per cent): Audi Q3 (365), BMW X1 (330), Volvo XC40 (179)
Medium SUV < $60k (12,066, down 10.4 per cent): Toyota RAV4 (2290), Mazda CX-5 (1859), Nissan X-Trail (1467)
Medium SUV > $60k (3199, up 27.1 per cent): BMW X3 (325), Audi Q5 (320), Lexus NX (301)
SUV Large < $70k (7072, down 11.4 per cent): Toyota Prado (1230), Toyota Kluger (959), Ford Everest/Mazda CX-9 (490)
SUV Large > $70k (1492, up 28.8 per cent): Mercedes-Benz GLE/GLE Coupe (341), BMW X5/X6 (252), Range Rover Sport (192)
SUV Upper Large < $100k (905, down 1.5 per cent): Toyota LandCruiser wagon (751), Nissan Patrol (154)
SUV Upper Large > $100k (276, up 14.5 per cent): Mercedes-Benz GLS (78), Land Rover Discovery (71), BMW X7 (39)

Light commercials

Vans < 2.5t (145, down 2.7 per cent): Volkswagen Caddy (105), Renault Kangoo (31), Peugeot Partner (7)
Vans 2.5t-3.5t (1100, down 3.9 per cent): Toyota HiAce (411), Hyundai iLoad (196), Ford Transit Custom (164)
4x2 Utes (1806, down 25.8 per cent): Toyota HiLux (672), Mitsubishi Triton (225), Isuzu D-Max (207)
4x4 Utes 10,748, down 9.3 per cent): Ford Ranger (2446), Toyota HiLux (2296), Mitsubishi Triton (1850)

Miscellaneous data

While sales fell across the board, SUVs only dipped by 1.5 per cent – compared to 26.9 per cent for passenger cars, and 11.2 per cent for light commercials. SUVs achieved a remarkable 49.3 per cent market share.

The most 'popular' vehicle segments were Medium SUVs (14,265), Small Cars (11,187), 4x4 Utes (10,748), Small SUVs (9092) and Large SUVs (8564).

These five broad segments accounted for 75.1 per cent of total new vehicle sales.

The top 10 car brands as listed earlier accounted for 74.8 per cent of all market share.

Sales to the private sector fell 13.8 per cent (34,560), the business sector by 11.8 per cent (29,383), and the government sector by 17.8 per cent (2417). Rental car sales grew 2.8 per cent to 3562.

The main sources of vehicles were Japan (22,589), Thailand (18,009), Korea (10,332), Germany (5319), the USA (3334), England (1895), China (1637) and the Czech Republic (1021).

There were 1924 hybrid passenger cars sold (up 13.9 per cent), and 1476 hybrid SUVs (up 92.7 per cent).

Extra

This is data and insights from chief economist at CommSec, Craig James, in the most recent CommSec Economic Insights report:

"New vehicle sales are still well down on a year ago. But bushfires, drought, coronavirus and even hailstorms would have restricted sales activity. Looking ahead, purchases could be supported as owners replace vehicles that have been affected by natural disasters. Rising home prices also serve to lift asset values of households, boosting the borrowing capacity for purchases of ‘big ticket’ items like new vehicles.

"The lift in the services gauge is encouraging but there are still headwinds to navigate.

"Global oil prices have slid to 13-month lows on fears that the coronavirus could disrupt travel and oil demand for a number of months. In Australia the wholesale price of fuel has fallen over 9 cents a litre to a 7-month low – and this could lead to lower pump prices in the next fortnight.

"Wage earners are still coming to grips with annual wage growth hovering near 2 per cent. The good news for wage earners though is that their cost of living is growing at an even slower pace, near 1 per cent. In contrast, living costs for pensioners and self-funded retirees is closer to 2 per cent according the latest Bureau of Statistics data."

January 2020 sales

Brand Sales +/- %
Toyota14,809-7.2%
Mazda6695-29.5%
Hyundai5443-12.3%
Mitsubishi5108-23.4%
Kia47051.2%
Ford4169-5.7%
Nissan3444-9.4%
Honda3436-15.0%
Volkswagen3246-10.3%
Holden2641-36.6%
Subaru2250-34.6%
BMW1931-6.3%
M-Benz Cars1858-8.7%
Audi144812.9%
Suzuki1237-13.4%
Isuzu Ute1120-16.4%
MG91982.7%
Lexus7232.6%
Land Rover61935.2%
Volvo Car55328.3%
Skoda54032.4%
Renault420-29.3%
Porsche410121.6%
Jeep3873.2%
LDV38464.8%
M-Benz Vans357-11.6%
MINI266-18.9%
Haval201443.2%
Peugeot137-10.5%
RAM13041.3%
Jaguar129-41.6%
Great Wall12576.1%
Ssangyong73-
Alfa Romeo65-16.7%
Fiat Pro60-14.3%
Fiat58-38.9%
Chrysler2847.4%
Ferrari2812.0%
Maserati27-18.2%
Bentley1515.4%
Citroen13-59.4%
Genesis10-
Aston Martin8100.0%
Infiniti8-69.2%
Lamborghini70.0%
Lotus4-20.0%
McLaren40.0%
Rolls-Royce2100.0%
Alpine1-83.3%