The Australian new-vehicle market endured its 11th consecutive monthly decline last month when 87,102 sales made it the slowest February in five years.
Figures released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) reveal that new-vehicle sales were down 9.3 per cent month-on-month in February, with all sales segments except light commercial vehicles were down.
Year-to-date - thanks in part to the fall in property prices and the subsequent slide in consumer confidence - not since 2012 have so few vehicles been sold across January and February.
Negative wealth effect from housing having impact
Victoria (-11.7%) and NSW (-11.0%) suffered the biggest declines in February, coinciding with their sharpest falls in capital city housing prices over the past 18 months.
Once again, it was the passenger vehicle market where things were most dire, thanks to a 21.3 per cent plummet against the opening months of 2018.
Our fascination with SUVs has seemingly waned, falling 6.3 per cent, while LCVs held up its end of the bargain, rising six per cent thanks to the top-three performances of the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton.
HiLux outsells Holden
In terms of manufacturers, Toyota maintained its grip on the market in February, albeit with a 10.5 per cent reduction in sales thanks in part to slower Corolla sales. Mazda consolidated second overall despite a 6.8 per cent slide, with the CX-5 and run-out Mazda3 both among the top-five sellers.
The Japanese car-makers’ fortunes were in stark contrast to Holden, whose 2019 sales have plummeted 23.2 per cent on the same period in 2018. In February alone, Holden’s sales were down 18.4 per cent on the corresponding period in 2018.
In fact, Holden’s entire fleet was outsold single-handedly by the market’s top-selling vehicle, the Toyota HiLux (4431).
Not everyone finished in the red, however. Mitsubishi (+22.2%), Skoda (+21%), Kia (+3.4%), LDV (+3.7%) and Suzuki (+1.0%) are each up in their respective year-to-date sales.
FCAI chief Tony Weber cited falling house prices as the primary reason for the slumping new car market.
"Given the current challenging economic conditions, including a downturn in the housing market, the automotive industry is not surprised by the slower start to the year," he said.
Top 10 brand in February 2019:
Toyota -- 16,359
Mazda -- 9235
Mitsubishi -- 8495
Hyundai -- 6429
Ford -- 5678
Kia -- 4856
Volkswagen -- 4067
Nissan -- 3923
Honda -- 3865
Holden -- 3825
Top 10 models in February 2019:
Toyota HiLux -- 4431
Ford Ranger -- 3377
Mitsubishi Triton -- 3155
Mazda3 -- 2655
Mazda CX-5 -- 2357
Mitsubishi ASX -- 2122
Toyota Corolla -- 2070
Hyundai i30 -- 1929
Toyota LandCruiser 70/200 - 1804
Toyota RAV4 -- 1639
Big winners outside the Top 10
Volvo up 49.5% YoY
Skoda up 19% YoY
Alfa Romeo up 22% YoY
Jaguar up 18% YoY