NEW vehicle sales have crashed to the lowest since 2011 as environmental disasters add to already trying economic conditions, keeping the handbrake firmly on Australians’ wallets.
The sale of new cars slumped by 7.8 per cent during 2019 to the worst numbers in eight years.
The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries’ 2019 sales report shows 1,062,867 new vehicles were sold in the 12 months to December 31 – the lowest total in eight years – though the decline slowed somewhat in the final month of the year.
December’s 3.8 per cent drop in new car sales – compared to December 2018 – was not as bad as the 9.8 per cent decline experienced in November, or the 9.1 per cent in October, but still reflected what FCAI chief executive Tony Weber said was a “tough year for the Australian economy”.
“The challenges (have included) tightening of lending, movements in exchange rates, slow wages growth and, of course, the extreme environmental factors our country is experiencing,” Mr Weber said on Monday.
The figures come as the Australian Industry Group calls for further economic stimulus to jolt the country out of a manufacturing slump.
Ai Group Chief Executive Innes Willox said the year-ending manufacturing downturn pointed to a further slackening of an economy already in the slow lane.
The Reserve Bank cut the cash rate three times in 2019 to a record low 0.75 per cent and is widely tipped to go even lower when its board next meets in February.
Amid the falling car sales, Mr Weber noted a continuing shift in motoring purchases, with a further move to SUV sales, which now hold 45.5 per cent of the total market, a 2.5 percentage point increase from 2018.
Continuing the full year comparison, light commercial vehicle share grew by 0.6 percentage points to claim 21.2 per cent of the market, while passenger motor vehicles decreased by 3.1 percentage points to 29.7 per cent.
While holding the largest share of market, sales of SUVs declined for full year 2019 by 2.4 per cent compared to 2018.
The Toyota HiLux again claimed the title of number one selling vehicle in 2019 across all categories, with 47,649 sales.
HiLux was followed by the Ford Ranger, again number two in the market with 40,960 sales.
Next was the Toyota Corolla (30,468 sales), the Hyundai i30 (28,378 sales), and the Mitsubishi Triton (25,819 sales).