Hopes for another record year of new car sales in Australia have taken a hit, with the latest Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries data revealing a slowing of the market.
Figures released today by the industry body show that 83,135 vehicles were sold during the month of April, a 5.1 per cent decrease on the corresponding period in 2016. Overall, our market is down 2.8 per cent year-to-date.
Private passenger car sales were down 19.2 per cent in April, private SUV sales were down 7.9 per cent and private light commercial sales were down 7.1 per cent. Overall the private buyer segment is down 3.6 per cent year-on-year, while the business segment is down 2.0 per cent and the Government segment down by 8.1 per cent.
Market remains upbeat
According to Commsec senior economist Savanth Sebastian, consumer confidence across the economy remains “in a holding pattern”. He anticipates modest sales in the lead up to next week’s Federal budget, followed by a gradual strengthening in sales.
“Easter would have had an impact on the latest car sales results, more holidays and many people away,” Sebastian said of the April result.
“Despite that, the car sales market remains very upbeat. It’s probably been an area where households have been willing to upgrade.
“Consumer confidence is OK, that’s probably the best way to put it. There will be a little more softness coming into the budget. It plays an integral role in family finance for the next 12 months, and people will be watching on to see what happens.”
Kia, Subaru and Mitsubishi rise
The biggest losers in the month of April were Holden and Ford. The Lion brand suffered a 13.5 per cent dip in sales, to 5804, while the blue oval finished with a 15.2 per cent plunge to fall narrowly behind its arch rival, at 5802 vehicles.
A dearth of large car sales were both big triggers for Holden and Ford, the Commodore managing a meagre 1441 sales as it limps home to the end of local production in October, while Ford pushed out seven Falcons and 142 Territory SUVs – a sign that remaining dealer stock is all but gone following last year’s shutdown.
Elsewhere, Volkswagen sales fell 8.8 per cent year-to-date, as the German manufacturer awaits its Golf 7.5 update, and Nissan plunged to 10th on the sales ladder after a 17.5 per cent dip in monthly sales.
Toyota (16,090 sales, down 2.9 per cent) again shot to the top of the pops, thanks in part to its evergreen HiLux, which topped the market outright with 3430 sales. The Ford Ranger finished second with 3120 overall, leveraged by greater 4×4 demand, while the Toyota Corolla finished third with 2555 sales.
Mazda (8603 sales) remains second outright in the new car market following a strong month for the Mazda3 (2313) and CX-5 (2166). Hyundai held onto third despite a dip in monthly sales, but is expected to bounce back with the impending arrival of its new i30 hatch.
Other movers and shakers included Kia (seventh outright, 4120 sales) and Subaru (ninth outright, 3854 sales). Mitsubishi recorded a massive 30.9 per cent increase in monthly sales, with 5470, handing its sixth overall.
April also saw our love affair with the ute strengthen, with strong performances from the Holden Colorado (1824 sales), Mitsubishi Triton (1384), Isuzu D-Max (1246) and Nissan Navara (1379).
Pick-up segment expected to remain strong
Commsec’s Sebastion expects continued demand across the light pick-up segment.
“With an improvement in the commodity prices you might start to see an improvement in business sales,” he said.
“If the budget doesn’t have serious impact on household finances we will see the market remain steady. We saw some stellar numbers in January and then a dip in February. Overall we expect household employment to continue to lift, house prices will also increase but more modestly.
“The car industry will continue to benefit as a result.”
VFACTS: April 2017
Top 10 makes: Toyota (16,090), Mazda (8603), Hyundai (6850), Holden (5804), Ford (5802), Mitsubishi (5407), Kia (4120), Volkswagen (3867), Subaru (3854) and Nissan (3350)
Top 10 models: Toyota HiLux (3430), Ford Ranger (3120), Toyota Corolla (2555), Mazda3 (2313), Mazda CX-5 (2166), Hyundai i30 (1979), Toyota Camry (1885), Holden Colorado (1824), Hyundai Tucson (1530) and Kia Cerato (1490)
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