A buyer strike continues to affect the local automotive market, according to figures released by VFACTS today.
At 81,994 sales for the month of January, total vehicle sales for the month are over 6500 units down on the same month in 2018.
The last time the industry registered a lower number for January was seven years ago, in 2012, when the figure peaked at 76,783 units.
The shortfall last month was shared across all segments: passenger, SUV and light commercial. Only heavy trucks have seen an improvement on the January sales tally, year on year.
SUVs capture more share
Even SUVs, which outsold passenger cars in January by nearly 8000 units (35,940 to 28,050), are 1949 sales behind the January 2018 figure. Light commercial vehicles (15,809 sales for the month) are nearly a thousand units lower and passenger-vehicle sales have fallen by over 3800 units for the month.
Overall, sales to government and rental fleets grew year on year, but couldn't compensate for lower sales to private buyers and other fleets. That indicates that the 'credit crunch' mentioned late last year by Mazda Australia MD Vineshi Bhindi is still impacting retail sales.
Tony Weber, CEO of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), in a statement issued today also suggests the property market and anticipation of a federal election are having an impact.
"The current economic environment is a challenging one, with an imminent federal election, a declining real estate market and tighter lending practices," says.
"However, Australia's love affair with SUVs continues. January was a solid sales period for these vehicles, with the segment claiming 43.8 per of total market sales.
"Passenger sales were strong in the small car segment, with the Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai i30 leading the pack."
Mitsubishi and Kia continue to grow
It's early days yet, but Mitsubishi is shaping up for a good year in 2019, one of just three brands in the top 10 to sell more cars last month than in January 2018. With 6669 sales for the month, Mitsubishi's sales are over 1400 ahead of the corresponding figure 12 months earlier.
Toyota naturally remains on top, with 15,961 sales in January – a gain of 655, year on year. Kia was the other company to grow sales, year on year. Its total of 4651 was 120 units better, year on year.
Mazda remains in second place (9490 sales for the month), but Mitsubishi (6669 sales) has pushed ahead of Hyundai (6205) to occupy third place, but that may change next month. Kia (4651) is right behind Hyundai in fifth spot and Ford (4421) is occupying sixth, ahead of Holden at seventh (4167). Honda (4042) is ahead of Nissan (3803) and Volkswagen (3617) rounds out the top 10.
Top 10 Models
The top 10 vehicles by sales in January were: Toyota HiLux (3951), Mazda3 (2831), Ford Ranger (2564), Toyota Corolla (2417), Mazda CX-5 (2347), Hyundai i30 (1891), Mitsubishi ASX (1818), Toyota RAV4 (1800), Mitsubishi Triton (1697) and Holden Colorado (1544).