The hail storm that lashed Canberra in late January has delivered a boom in new-car sales as the rest of the market hit the brakes.
Official figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries for March show sales of new cars in the Australian Capital Territory increased by a staggering 77 per cent compared to the same month the previous year (from 1700 to almost 3000 vehicles) – as the overall market nationally fell by 18 per cent.
Thousands of car owners in Canberra were even getting their written-off vehicles replaced in February – less than a month after the hail storm and severe winds – with sales for that month increasing by a remarkable 53 per cent compared to the same month the previous year (from 2700 to 3400 vehicles) – as the overall market nationally fell by 8 per cent.
In both months, the Australian Capital Territory was the only state or territory in the country to post a sales gain.
The hail storm in late January combined with winds in excess of 100kmh caused millions of dollars worth of damage to thousands of cars in Canberra and parts of the south coast of NSW.
At the time, the Bureau of Meteorology warned “damaging, locally destructive winds, large, possible giant hailstones and heavy rainfall” would strike the region and encouraged people to stay indoors and keep their vehicles undercover if at all possible.
The weather bureau subsequently confirmed there were wind gusts of 116kmh during the peak of the storm.
Although thousands of cars were written off by insurance companies – issuing cheques to customers who evidently put the money towards a new motor vehicle – thousands of others had their hail-damaged bodies repaired and smashed windscreens replaced.
In addition to hail and heavy rain, the high winds uprooted trees and snapped branches, which also caused extensive damage to motor vehicles.
The Insurance Council of Australia said Canberra residents had filed more than 15,000 claims for damage to homes, businesses, contents and motor vehicles. About two-thirds of the 15,000 insurance claims were for damage to motor vehicles, the ICA said.
MORE: New-car sales results