Australian new-car buyers have kept their foot on the accelerator and the industry is set for another record year – despite the federal election – with provisional figures showing a sales surge in January after last year’s all-time high.
Some pundits believed the push to 1.1 million sales last year might have led to a drop in sales in January as sharp discounting pulled some orders forward. But provisional data shows the market is up by about 10 per cent compared with the same month last year, pushing past 84,000 deliveries for the first time. The previous January record was 82,270 set in 2008.
The boss of Mazda Doug Dickson told News Limited earlier: “I think this year is going to be another record. From our understanding, personal savings are at all time highs and private buyers will remain strong. “And even if resources [sectors] come off a little, they’re not going to go away. They’re still a very big industry and they need new cars. I don’t think we’re going to get the massive increases we got in some of the segments but we’re still forecasting a 3 per cent rise.”
Market leader Toyota – which held a record 103,000 sales lead over its nearest rival in 2012 and has been the top selling brand for the past 10 years – also predicts sales will eclipse 1.1 million in 2013. But the peak body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, believes sales will fall to 1,075,000. “During this election year, and with production now having caught up with back orders, FCAI forecasts a national automotive market of 1,075,000 for 2013,” said the chief executive of the FCAI, Tony Weber.
But federal elections have not hurt sales before. In 2007 new-car sales eclipsed 1 million for the first time, and it was the best year on record until 2012. The year 2010 was the second-best on record at the time. The official sales data will be released next week but provisional figures shared by the industry showed the Nissan Navara came within striking distance of its ute rival, the Toyota HiLux, to rank fourth (2475 sales).
The Ford Focus small car had a record January result (2365 sales) and sold at almost quadruple the rate of the Falcon (780 sales), which posted one of its lowest results on record. Ford announced in 2007 it was going to build the Focus in Australia but it reversed the decision in 2009 and that model now comes from Thailand.
Holden’s Commodore (1650 sales) was outsold by the Captiva SUV (2155 sales) and only narrowly ahead of the Cruze sedan and hatch (1630). The Mazda CX5 (1625 sales) and Ford Ranger ute (1450) rounded out the top 10; Holden’s Colorado ute finished just outside the cut-off (1420 sales).
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling