We might not be buying big-screen TVs but we are splashing out on shiny new cars. As retail spending slows and analysts predict the Reserve Bank will cut interest rates to stimulate consumer confidence, new-car sales roared to an all-time record in November.
According to preliminary figures, Australians treated themselves to 98,700 new cars last month, up 11 per cent on the same month last year and up 7 per cent on the previous November record set in 2007, the first time 1 million annual sales were eclipsed.
Australia is now on track to post close to -- or in excess of -- 1.1 million new vehicle sales this year, a new record. The market continues to be driven by sharp prices buoyed by the strong Australian dollar, and an oversupply of imported vehicles as Australia becomes a dumping ground for the rest of the world.
Low-interest rate finance deals are also fuelling the frenzy, even though in most cases buyers are forced to pay full price for the car, on shorter repayment terms. “Unlike the GFC, this is not stressful discounting, it’s just perfect conditions,” Doug Dickson, the boss of Mazda Australia, said last month.
“Personal savings are high, employment is high, wages are high, there is heaps of money in the economy. It’s just a matter of prising the lid open on that.”
The Toyota Corolla made a late charge to the top of the sales charts as the biggest selling vehicle last month thanks to the arrival of an all-new model.
But the Mazda3 small car extended its year-to-date lead and looks set to be Number One for the second year in a row. Meanwhile the Toyota Camry outsold the Holden Commodore for the second month in a row for the first time ever.
A notable absentee from the top 10 selling cars is South Korean juggernaut Hyundai, which posted strong sales the month before.
Utility vehicles continue to figure prominently – representing four of the top 10 sellers – thanks to the mining boom, the arrival of new models and more car-like safety and equipment.
Official VFACTS sales figures for November are due to be released midday Wednesday.