The Australian vehicle industry posted its fourth consecutive month of record sales in August, with new car sales continuing to outperform 2016, according to the latest figures from VFACTS.
Looking back at previous months, the industry ended the 2017 financial year with record sales, increasing by 4.4% year-on-year despite low consumer confidence. The start of the new financial year saw a continuation of this momentum, with sales increasing 1.6% year-on-year. Toyota continues to drive this momentum, with three of the top vehicles based on July sales. Meanwhile, Japan remained the most popular source of vehicle imports, ahead of Thailand and Korea.
In August, new vehicle sales grew 1.8% year-on-year, further adding to the steady year-to-date growth, with a 0.6% increase over the first eight months of 2016. Although sales were well below June, End of Financial Year (EOFY) incentives typically drive record sales as consumers hunt for a deal. August's increase on July (and previous results) suggest that sales will push back up beyond the 100,000-mark next month.
While Toyota leads the Australian market from a single brand perspective, how does the data change when we group together the different brands sitting under the same ownership? From this perspective, Toyota Industries continues to lead on market share, followed by Hyundai Motor Group (Hyundai, Kia), the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, Mazda and Volkswagen Group (VW, Audi, Porsche, SEAT, Skoda). As well as having the greatest year-to-date market share in both 2016 and 2017, Toyota has also seen the greatest increase year-on-year.
The big shift in 2017 sees Hyundai overtaking the weakening Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance to move into second place in terms of market share. It’s also worth noting that General Motors, which sold 10 million vehicles globally in 2016, sits outside the top 5 in the Australian market, with Holden its only performer in the local market.
A closer look at Renault-Nissan's model line-up largely explains the reason for the decline in market share. Nissan has discontinued three models within the last year – the Altima, Pulsar and Micra – causing a precipitous drop in new sales of these vehicles. While The Juke and Patrol Wagon are yet to be discontinued, sales are down for both models by almost a half, suggesting that their days may be numbered.
On a positive note for Renault-Nissan, X-Trail and Qashqai sales have increased by between 4% and 7% respectively. Both these models are Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), which is indicative of the ongoing trend towards this category. The X-Trail is now Nissan's bestseller, and the Qashqai has seen the best year-on-year growth (except for the GT-R, although that’s based on just 59 units).
Tony Weber, Chief Executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), observed that the rise of SUVs and light commercial vehicles continues to drive the motor vehicle industry's growth.
"More new models coming into the market in both these segments is creating strong consumer interest and helping to fuel the industry’s momentum,” Weber said. “This August result provides confidence that should all the positive contributing factors within the economy remain in place, sales during the back half of the year will keep us on track for another record year.”
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