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August new-car sales shocker: Australia declared one of the "most difficult markets in the world"

The hurt continues for car makers in Australia.

New-car sales have continued their slump in August - the 17th consecutive months of declines - with Australia now declared one of the most difficult markets in the world.

Car makers reported 85,633 sales in August, which is around 10 per cent less than we recorded in the same month in 2018. Worryingly, every vehicle segment is now in decline, including the once-robust SUV and LCV segments that were largely propping up earlier results.

According the peak industry body, the FCAI,  passenger vehicles fell 16.7 per cent to 25,783 sales, SUVs fell 5.4 per cent to 39,040 sales and light commercial vehicles fell 8.6 per cent to 17,513 sales. Total sales for the month were reported at 85,633 units, a 10.1 per cent drop over the same month in 2018.

SUVs fell 5.4 per cent to 39,040 sales and light commercial vehicles fell 8.6 per cent to 17,513 sales. SUVs fell 5.4 per cent to 39,040 sales and light commercial vehicles fell 8.6 per cent to 17,513 sales.

FCAI chief executive Tony Weber pulled no punches when describing the state of Australia's new-car market, and pointed to lending regulations as a possible culprit. 

“There’s no doubt it is a very tough market at the moment,” he says. “And despite the best efforts of the industry, the decrease in sales continues.

“It is well known that Australia is one of the most competitive markets in the world, and with the current economic environment, it is also one of the most difficult markets in the world.

New-car sales have continued their slump in August - the 17th consecutive months of declines. New-car sales have continued their slump in August - the 17th consecutive months of declines.

“This environment stems from a slow start to the year, with tight financial lending, State and Federal elections and a general lack of consumer confidence, both here in Australia and on an international basis.

“The question needs to be asked about whether the current regulatory approach to financing is appropriate, and if not, what harm it is doing to both the sector and the economy more broadly."

There was movement among Australia's top three brands, with Toyota retaining top spot with 16,7000 sales (down 11.3 per cent month on month and 5.6 per cent year to date), but Hyundai climbed to second spot for the month with 7320 sales (down 8.6 per cent for the month and 8.9 per cent YTD). 

The top three is still made up of Toyota, Mazda and Hyundai. The top three is still made up of Toyota, Mazda and Hyundai.

The Korean brand's climb came at the cost of Mazda, who, after a particularly tough month, fell to third spot for August with 7291 sales. That's down 32.1 per cent for the month, and drags their annual result down 10.3 per cent.

Almost all of the brand's key vehicles have suffered a significant fall in sales, with the all-new Mazda 3 down some 32 per cent, the CX-5 down 30.9 per cent, the CX-8 down 47 per cent, and the BT-50 4X4 down 34.7 per cent. Those figures are all compared to the same month in 2018.

Mitsubishi (6242 sales, down 11.7 per cent MOM  and 2.3 per cent YTD) and Ford (4916 sales, down 17.5 per cent MOM and 8.5 per cent YTD rounded out the August top five.

The Toyota HiLux (3674 sales), Ford Ranger (3181 sales), Toyota Corolla (2863 sales), Hyundai i30 (2813 sales) and the Toyota RAV4 (2006 sales) were the five best-selling vehicles last month. 

The HiLux continues to top the sale charts. The HiLux continues to top the sale charts.