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July new-car sales show light in the tunnel

Toyota remains king with HiLux and Corolla shining stars as buyers rekindle new-car interest.

Toyota maintained its stranglehold on the Australian market in July, taking out most popular new vehicle and runner-up, and holding an unchallenged total market share.

It was good news for Toyota and its 21.5 per cent share but not for the majority of Australia’s 67 new-vehicle players as total sales fell 2.8 per cent to 83,184 units compared with the same month in 2018 and volumes for the first seven months slid 7.7 per cent.

July’s easing comes on the back of a traditionally strong end-of-financial-year June market. This year, despite car sales of nearly 118,000, June’s result was almost 10 per cent down on the same month last year.

Industry observers blame a squeeze in the financial sector with more onerous loan applications, the luxury car tax that has been followed in two states by an additional state-based tax on prestige vehicles, jittery home values that affects personal lending, and the shaky consumer confidence that remains in play after the federal election.

July proved the toughest on the passenger-car segment, with an 11.1 per cent fall compared with July in 2018. Buyers backtracked from micro cars (down 25.5 per cent) and sports cars (down 26.6 per cent) with the only upward trend noted in the medium-size category as sales of prestige models strengthened.

The SUV segment lifted 3.5 per cent but is down 3.6 per cent in year-to-date figures, while light-commercial vehicles were also down in July by 1.9 per cent and the heavy vehicle sector fell 4.5 per cent.

Around the country it was Tasmania that buoyed the final figures, showing a 3.5 per cent increase in the month’s sales and a year-to-date increase of 15 per cent. WA fell 5.2 per cent but the YTD sales are up 5.0 per cent, the only state to join Tasmania with an increase.

The Northern Territory fell 8.0 per cent in July, the biggest fall, followed by the ACT (down 6.8 per cent), NSW (down 4.7), Queensland (down 4.5), Victoria (down 2.9) and South Australia (down 0.3).

In individual brands, Toyota had a 5.7 per cent increase in sales for a 21.5 per cent market share with HiLux becoming top-seller again as it found 3359 new homes. The figures were, however, down on July 2018 by 10.4 per cent.

Its Corolla stepped up into second place with a 25.1 per cent rise off a slip in June, and new model RAV4 impressed with a 30.5 per cent jump to fourth spot on the ladder.

Mazda took second place in the brands with consistent sales by the CX-5 and Mazda3, though sales in each were off the previous year and Mazda’s overall performance was down 7.8 per cent. Its market share is less than half that of Toyota.

Hyundai was in third with a stable 1.1 per cent fall compared with July in 2018 as its i30 small car maintained its popularity and finished fifth in the model tally.

Mitsubishi came in fourth place despite sales down 11.2 per cent and with no models in the top-10 list, while Ford was in fifth on the back of the nation’s third-best seller, the Ranger, that lifted sales by 6.9 per cent over July 2018.

Kia was in sixth place as its sales rose 2.3 per cent to 4506 units, led by the Cerato that leapt 20.7 per cent, while Nissan followed with 3864 sales, down 10.7 per cent.

Volkswagen was in eighth place with 3609 sales (down 9.3 per cent) and Subaru’s 4.4 per cent lift saw it snag eighth position with 3513 sales.

Holden finished off the top 10 with 3266 units, with its overall sales slide continuing to the tune of 16.8 per cent

In the top tier, Mercedes-Benz Cars had a 25.7 per cent sales boost to sell 2792 cars in July, followed by BMW with a 4.5 per cent increase to 1758 units, and Audi that plunged 36.5 per cent to 858 units.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) chief executive Tony Weber said that the July sales figures continued to illustrate the tough market conditions and the sensitive nature of the economy.

But he said it was “great news for the consumer who is spoiled for choice with attractive new-car offers as automotive brands provide excellent deals to stimulate sales growth.”

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