New Car Sales Still Stuck In Reverse

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

Car sales have started 2020 in their weakest state since the GFC with the lowest January figures for 8 years.

Figures yesterday from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) showed that 71,731 vehicles ales were recorded last month, down 12.5% and the first time in 8 years that January sales have fallen under 80,000.

The fall means care sales in Australia have now fallen for more than 22-months and don’t look like steadying any time soon.

January’s slide came after a 7.4% drop over 2019 and confirms that consumer discretionary spending is still weak and showing no sign of an upturn.

To make matters worse, January 2018 sales figures were down more than 5% from 2018, meaning sales last month were more than 20% or 17,000 under the level at the start of 2018.

Kia was the only member of the leading car brands last month to hold its head up above water, posting 4705 sales (+1.2%) to secure a top-five position. Was that due to its active sponsorship of tennis including the high profile Australian Open?

The figures show that every major market category was down, with SUVs falling 1.5% (to 35,393 units), passenger cars plummeting 26.9% (to 20,494), light commercials down 11.2% (to 14,035) and heavy commercials dropping 17.6% to 1809.

FCAI chief executive Tony Weber said the January figures were unsurprising.

“Given the broad range of environmental, financial, international and political issues facing Australia during January, it is no surprise to see the new vehicle market has reported a conservative start to the year,” Mr. Weber said.

Toyota remaining dominant on 14,809 units (-7.2%) and Mazda holding the second position on 6695 – but sales dropped 29.5% for the month.

Hyundai (5443) and Mitsubishi (5108) have their own difficulties to deal with, dropping 12.3% and 23.4% respectively last month.

Sales in every state and territory fell sharply in January compared to the corresponding month last year, as was volume among the major buyer groups – private, business and government sales which dropped between 11.8% and 17.8%, offset by a 2.8% rise in sales to rental companies.

Glenn Dyer

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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