One of Australia’s biggest-selling car brands has forecast the industry will finish the year with the weakest annual sales result since 2002.
Kia Australia – the second-biggest seller of passenger vehicles locally and sixth best-selling brand outright – says its data shows the national tally of new-car sales will dip to 876,000 for calendar year 2020.
This would be the weakest result since 2002 when 824,000 cars were reported as sold, and since 2003 when just shy of 910,000 cars were delivered.
The brakes have been slammed on new-car sales since March, when factory shutdowns, state lockdowns, and border closures started to grind deliveries to a halt.
The car industry is still experiencing widespread stock shortages and is now taking extra-ordinary measures to move cars around the country via ship to get vehicles into showrooms that are still open.
Victoria’s car showrooms have been crippled by forced closures in the state and automotive companies are now urgently trying to divert large shipments of vehicles to other ports in Queensland and NSW (two of Australia’s three biggest markets) where dealerships remain open and demand is strong.
The boss of Kia Australia, Damien Meredith, said the forecast of 876,000 deliveries for the entire car industry in 2020 was based on the sustained slowdown in sales since March and a delay in the ramp-up of production in the wake of factory shutdowns.
"We believe it’s always important in our business to put something tangible out there in regards to where you think the market is going to be by the end of the year," said Mr Meredith. "Our planning guys have been watching this closely like everyone else, of course, but based on our analysis we think the market will end up somewhere around this figure."
If the forecast of 876,000 proves correct, it will be Australia's third year in a row of decline in annual new-car sales, since a record of 1,189,116 was posted in 2017.
The 2017 result was the third record year in a row – and the fifth time in six years Australian new-car sales posted a record result.
Meanwhile the 2020 slowdown has finally put the brakes on Kia’s dramatic sales surge, though it has performed better than most other brands.
Kia sales in Australia more than doubled in the five years from 2014 to 2019 (from 28,000 to 61,500).
However Kia says it is now on track to post its worst result in three years.
So far this year Kia sales are down by 13.6 per cent in the first eight months of this year versus the same period in 2019. By comparison, the entire new-car market is down by 20.4 per cent so far this year.