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Australian vehicle market drops 7.4 per cent

Toyota won the November sales race, selling 47,834 HiLux utes.
Ron Hammerton
Contributing Journalist
GoAutoMedia

5 Dec 2018 • 4 min read

Aussie vehicle sales have now weakened for eight consecutive months, culminating in a 7.4 per cent drop in November compared with the same month last year.

Figures released by VFACTS show that only strong demand for 4x4 utes has prevented the market from plummeting even further, as passenger car sales continue to shrink and even SUV sales hit the wall.

Last month’s total sales tallied 93,860 units – down from 105,410 last year – bringing the year-to-date sales figure to 1,065,583 vehicles, down 1.9 per cent.

To put that into perspective, at least 123,533 vehicles will have to be sold in December to break last year’s sales record of 1,189,116.

SUV sales were down 1.9 per cent in November to 39,983, and passenger cars did even worse, down 20.8 per cent to 29,250.

The drop in sales is attributed to a difficult economy, explains Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Tony Weber. 

“However, it is encouraging that sales have once again passed the one million mark for 2018, with one more selling month to go,” he said.

“The 1.9 per cent fall in sales to same number during the 2017 record year is a modest outcome within a market where consumer preferences are rapidly shifting from passenger vehicles to SUVs.”

Fortunately, light-commercial vehicle sales climbed 4.2 per cent last month, to 20,900 vehicles, mainly because 4x4 pick-up sales rose 8.5 per cent.

Toyota topped the sales charts as usual, selling 18,271 vehicles, including 4671 HiLux pick-ups.

The HiLux, which this year is set to repeat its victory lap as Australia’s top-selling vehicle, has now broken its own annual sales record by selling 47,834 this year – more than it sold in the full 12 months of 2017.

In November, the HiLux was followed by the Ford Ranger on 3469 sales, with third-place going to the top-selling passenger car, the Toyota Corolla, on 2659.

Holden continued to under-achieve in November, dropping 35.6 per cent in total vehicles sales, to 5125 units, putting it in seventh place.

What was once Australia’s best-seller – the Holden Commodore – achieved only 701 sales last month – down 61.8 per cent on the same month of last year.

Comparatively, the Holden Colorado nearly doubled that figure with 1364 sales.

Mercedes-Benz sales were down 33.9 per cent last month with 1819 passenger and SUV sales, although it managed to beat its primary rivals BMW (1637) and Audi (1440).

While many companies dipped into the red, Kia managed to lift its sales by 7.9 per cent for the month with 4644 sales. This is mainly thanks to a rise in popularity of its Sportage mid-size SUV.

What do you make of Australia's changing vehicle preferences? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.