The Liberal Party’s shock win in this month’s Federal election has been welcomed by the boss of Jaguar Land Rover Australia, who has cited the result as a trigger for a possible sales turnaround.
New-vehicle sales in Australia have slumped to their lowest levels since 2012 in recent months, the market down 8.9 per cent year-on-year as uncertainty swirled around the May 18 election decision.
Incumbent Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s win at the polls – against the backdrop over a well-publicised scare campaign on Labor taxes and policies – has been lauded as a major boost for the Australian car industry by JLR boss Mark Cameron.
“For our industry – and I’m not being party political here – but last week’s election result was the best result we could have hoped for – the current government remaining in power and a bit of confidence maybe returning,” Cameron told journalists this week.
Luxury car sales have been hardest hit this year, with small and large cars down 30 per cent, medium cars down 12 per cent, upper large cars down 80 per cent, medium SUVs down 10 per cent and large SUVs down 24 per cent.
But JLR is already seeing a post-election turnaround.
“Last week we measured our enquiry levels, as we do every week. The last seven days we had the highest level of enquiries that we’ve seen all year,” said Cameron.
“If that’s an immediate barometer of confidence returning – people were maybe holding off and seeing who was in power and what taxation affect that might have on their own personal income -- that’s probably a good indication.
“But, green shoots… one swallow doesn’t make a summer and all that. Hopefully, we’ll see a return in confidence and the business pick up, especially in the luxury segment.”
Cameron conceded car-makers were still up against “a few industry headwinds” headlined by real wage growth, a squeeze on credit and too much stock on the market.
Irrespective of government, they could soon be under more emissions pressure too. The Coalition, Labor and the Greens have all committed to electric vehicle policies in some form or another – the Liberals more of a fineprint statement than grandstanding.
Jaguar Land Rover has endured mixed fortunes in Australia of late: Jaguar sales are up 26 per cent year-to-date, while Land Rover sales are down 17 per cent.
Elsewhere, the rest of the luxury market has felt the squeeze, with Mercedes-Benz down 15.1 per cent, Audi down 27 per cent and BMW down 4.2 per cent all behind in their year-to-date totals.
“My personal view is that, whether we get a rate cut coming up with the Coalition still in power, together with the bottoming out of the house prices and relaxation in credit … in the second half of this year we’ll start to see improvement.”