New vehicle sales in Australia fell double digits yet again in February, to 79,940 units (a reduction of 10.3 per cent over the same month in 2019).
It’s now been 23 successive months of fewer sales than the corresponding month in the previous year, and sales are now the lowest they’ve been since 2011 when the Global Financial Crisis was intimately shaping purchasing behaviour.
VFACTS data for February shows that sales of new passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles fell by 11.8 per cent (3156 units) in NSW, 11.5 per cent (2108) in Victoria, and 10.6 per cent (1472) in Queensland.
Only the ACT (up 1.6 per cent, or 780 sales) bucked the trend, despite a reduction in sales to government departments of 14.4 per cent nationwide.
However, context is important: February was also just the second month where Australia’s new-car sales were counted under a new reporting method, cross-checking manufacturer-supplied data with actual registrations. So, it’s not entirely apples for apples.
Of the recorded sales, 39,304 were SUVs which therefore accounted for 49.2 per cent of the market, 22,648 were passenger vehicles (28.3 per cent of the market), and 15,523 were vans and utes (19.4 per cent of the market).
Federal Chamber of Automotive industries peak body CEO, Tony Weber, said: “in economic terms, a recession is declared after two quarters of negative growth – and this industry has now seen seven consecutive quarters of negative growth.
“There is no doubt that this is an extraordinarily difficult time for the automotive industry – a situation sadly underlined by the recent announcement of Holden’s withdrawal from the Australian market.”
The FCAI attributes the market conditions to “a number of adverse factors directly affecting consumer confidence over 2018, 2019 and the beginning of 2020”.
These include political and financial uncertainty; environmental factors such as floods, drought and bushfires; and more recently, the growing concerns regarding a global pandemic from the coronavirus. Let's also keep in mind currency flows that are counting against the AUD.
Perennial market leader Toyota made hay and grew its sales by 8.1 per cent over February 2019’s tally to 17,679 units, taking its total market share to a dominant 22.1 per cent. Extraordinary sales months from the RAV4 (up 105.9 per cent), Corolla (up 21.7 per cent) and Yaris (up 82.2 per cent) are the reasons.
Runner-up Mazda fell 21.7 per cent to 7230 as the 2, 3 and CX-5 all fell away substantially, but nevertheless finished ahead of Hyundai (down 7.5 per cent to 5945 thanks in large part to the discontinuation of its once-segment-topping Accent) and Mitsubishi (down 35.1 per cent to 5513 due to big hits on ASX and Triton).
Kia’s market-defying growth trend that carried throughout 2019 continued unabated, with the Korean company increasing its sales by 5.4 per cent to 5120 cars thanks to the new Seltos and successful Cerato, and banishing Ford (4856, down 14.5 per cent) to sixth, due to Mustang and Focus battling.
Rounding out the top ten were Nissan (3814, own 3 per cent), Volkswagen (3633, down 10.7 per cent), Honda (3522) and Mercedes-Benz Cars and SUVs (2673, up 2.2 per cent). If you add Mercedes-Benz’s separately-counted vans/utes division into the mix the total becomes 3203 units (up 1.9 per cent).
Subaru rebounded from massive supply headaches thanks in part to a new hybrid XV and Forester range that buyers are apparently snapping up, up 28.2 per cent to 2613. Next in line were BMW (2019, up 9.3 per cent), Isuzu Ute (1559, down 15.7 per cent as the countdown to its new D-Max begins), and Suzuki (1423, down 11.1 per cent).
Stories of Holden dealers selling out of remaining stock due to massive GM-funded discounts were not reflected in the sales charts, with the now-defunct Lion Brand tumbling 49.8 per cent to just 1367 units including just 598 Colorados, 132 Commodores, and 111 Equinoxes. Clearly the stock that's been moving comprised mostly low-kilometre demos that were counted as sold last year or in January.
What other brands grew sales in such a down market? China’s MG was up 105.5 per cent to 1163 sales, SsangYong’s 112 sales were entirely new given it wasn’t in the market last February, Skoda’s numbers were up 19 per cent to 589, Haval doubled its sales to 177, Audi grew 6.3 per cent to 1256, and Porsche was up 17.4 per cent to 365.
Actually, just check out the tables below and at the bottom of the story respectively to see all the ups and downs!
The Toyota Hilux with 3421 sales again claimed the title of Australia’s best-selling vehicle, closely followed by its stablemate RAV4 with a whopping 3375.
Australia’s third favourite vehicle during February was the Ford Ranger with 3202, followed by the Toyota Corolla with 2520 and Hyundai i30 with 2152.
The five most popular passenger vehicles were the aforementioned Corolla and i30, the Kia Cerato (1873), Toyota Camry (1445) and Mazda 3 (1435, down 46 per cent by the way). Read here for Mazda's thoughts on this trend.
The five most popular SUVs including the now-dominant RAV4 were the Mazda CX-5 (1969), Nissan X-Trail (1439), Mitsubishi ASX (1351) and Mazda CX-3 (1338).
The five most popular commercial vehicles were the already mentioned HiLux and Ranger, followed by the Mitsubishi Triton (1673), Isuzu D-Max (1047) and Nissan Navara (989).
Note: This table embed combines Golf and Golf Alltrack into one
- Micro: Kia Picanto (353), Mitsubishi Mirage (55), Fiat 500 (45)
- Light < $25k: Toyota Yaris (1246), MG 3 (620), Kia Rio (524)
- Light > $25k: Mini (130), Audi A1 (49), Citroen C3 (6)
- Small < $40k: Toyota Corolla (2520), Hyundai i30 (2152 + 175 Elantra), Kia Cerato (1873)
- Small > $40k: Mercedes-Benz A-Class (672), BMW 1 Series (274), Audi A3 (142)
- Medium < $60k: Toyota Camry (1445), Skoda Octavia (184), Mazda 6 (157)
- Medium > $60k: BMW 3 Series (278), MB C-Class (278), Audi A5 Sportback (55)
- Large < $70k: Kia Stinger (156), Holden Commodore (132), Skoda Superb (14)
- Large > $70k: MB E-Class (69), BMW 5 Series (64), Maserati Ghibli (17)
- Upper Large: Chrysler 300 (33), BMW 6 Series GC (27), MB S-Class (13)
- People Movers: Kia Carnival (384), Honda Odyssey (128), LDV G10 (76)
- Sports < $80k: Ford Mustang (214), BMW 2 Series (85), Hyundai Veloster (35)
- Sports > $80k: MB C-Class (130), MB E-Class (36), BMW 4 Series + Lexus RC (25)
- Sports > $200k: Porsche 911 (42), Ferrari range (30), BMW 8 Series (13)
- Light SUV: Mazda CX-3 (1338), Hyundai Venue (308), Holden Trax (233)
- Small SUV < $40k: Mitsubishi ASX (1351), Hyundai Kona (1150), Nissan Qashqai (976)
- Small SUV > $40k: BMW X1 (264), MB GLA (257), Audi Q3 (228),
- Medium SUV < $60k: Toyota RAV4 (3375), Mazda CX-5 (1969), Nissan X-Trail (1439)
- Medium SUV > $60k: MB GLC and GLC Coupe (701), BMW X3/X4 (495), Lexus NX (280)
- SUV Large < $70k: Toyota Prado (1316), Toyota Kluger (905), Mitsubishi Pajero Sport (679)
- SUV Large > $70k: Audi Q7 (304), MB GLE/GLE Coupe (299), BMW X5/X6 (240)
- SUV Upper Large: Toyota LandCruiser wagon (1162), Nissan Patrol (160)
- SUV Upper Large > $100k: Land Rover Discovery (112), MB GLS (82), BMW X7 (50)
- Vans < 2.5t: Volkswagen Caddy (136), Renault Kangoo (42), Peugeot Partner (10)
- Vans 2.5t-3.5t: Toyota HiAce (409), Hyundai iLoad (257), Ford Transit Custom (200)
- 4x2 Utes: Toyota HiLux (739), Isuzu D-Max (345), Mitsubishi Triton (236)
- 4x4 Utes: Ford Ranger (3003), Toyota HiLux (2682), Mitsubishi Triton (1437)
The top-selling vehicle segments by market share were Medium SUVs (20.2 per cent), Small Cars (15.7), 4x4 utes (14.6), Small SUVs (12.6) and Large SUVs (11.6).
These five segments accounted for 78.7 per cent of all sales.
Private sales fell 11.8 per cent to 37,348 units, business sales fell 9.4 per cent to 32,318, and rental sales grew 2.7 per cent to 5067.
There were 4929 sales of hybrid vehicles counted (2375 passenger vehicles and 2554 SUVs), almost all either Toyotas or Lexuses. This figure was up about 70 per cent.
There were 19,638 petrol-powered passenger cars sold versus 532 diesels, and 28,511 petrol-powered SUVs versus 8095 diesels.
The main sources of imports by sales were Japan (26,279), Thailand (19,291), Korea (11,074), Germany (5783), US (3158), England (2131), and China (2012).
The five vehicles that grew the most by volume against the February 2019 result were the Toyota RAV4 (1736 extra sales), Subaru Forester (636), Toyota Yaris (562), Toyota Corolla (450) and MG 3 (408).
New-to-market nameplates that performed best were the Kia Seltos (772), Mazda CX-30 (577), Hyundai Venue (308), MG HS (184) and BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe (85).
While the overall market declined 10.3 per cent, luxury car brands bucked the trend.
Maserati grew by 55.3 per cent, Porsche by 17.4 per cent, BMW by 9.3 per cent, Audi by 6.3 per cent, Land Rover by 3.9 per cent, Mini by 3.4 per cent, Lexus by 2.3 per cent, Mercedes-Benz Cars by 2.2 per cent, and Volvo Cars by 0.8 per cent.
Craig James, chief economist for CommSec said: "Luxury vehicle sales are growing... Low rates and higher home prices give budding vehicle buyers more purchasing power."
Sales by brand for Feb 2020: