New car sales reflect the state of the Australian economy

For the full calendar year of 2019, a total of 1,062,867 new vehicles were recorded as sold in Australia, a 7.8 per cent decrease on full year 2018 figures according to the FCAI VFACTS. The 2019 sales figures represent the lowest annual sales result reported in VFACTS since 2011.

 “Regarding the actual new vehicle sales results: 2019 reflects a tough year for the Australian economy, with challenges including tightening of lending, movements in exchange rates, slow wages growth and, of course, the extreme environmental factors our country is experiencing,” said Mr Weber Chief Executive of the FCAI.

Mr Weber noted the continuing adjustment for motoring consumers, with the 2019 year seeing a further shift to SUV sales which now hold 45.5 per cent of the total market, a 2.5 percentage point increase from 2018. While holding the largest share of market, sales of SUVs declined for full year 2019 by 2.4 per cent compared to 2018, sales of passenger vehicles declined by 16.5 per cent and sales of light commercial vehicles declined by 5.2 per cent.

Toyota sold the most new cars in Australia during 2019.

The Toyota HiLux again claimed the title of number one selling vehicle in 2019 across all categories, with 47,649 sales. The HiLux was followed by the Ford Ranger, again number two in the market with 40,960 sales, followed by the Toyota Corolla (30,468), the Hyundai i30 (28,378) and the Mitsubishi Triton (25,819).

But digging deeper into the new car sales figures shows that the high-end marques are still achieving strong growth despite the overall state of the economy. Rolls-Royce sold 55 vehicles in Australia in 2019, which is an all-time record and represents a 37.5 per cent increase above 2018. These results were driven by Cullinan, the Black Badge range, Wraith and Dawn. Globally Roll-Royce also had record sales with 5,152 vehicles sold, a growth of 25 per cent on 2018’s previous record of 4,107 and again the Cullinan, the brand’s new SUV, made major contribution to this growth.

The internet will tell you Enzo Ferrari once said “When you buy a Ferrari you pay for the engine and the rest of the car is free”. If I could afford one I would buy an 812 Superfast/GTS for the V12 engine alone!

Ferrari was the best performing of the super car companies in Australia selling 257 vehicles, an increase of 6.6 per cent over 2018 figures. However this volume is limited by supply from the Maranello factory and could be even higher still if the cars were made available to Australian buyers.

Lamborghini was the next best super car company with 147 vehicles sold in Australia an increase of 9.7 per cent over 2018, with the new Urus accounting for more than half of those sales. Worldwide Lamborghini achieved 43 per cent growth to 8,205 units. Lamborghini had a strong sales performance for both super sports car model lines: V10 and V12 and the Urus continues high sales momentum with almost 5,000 Urus delivered to customers. After experiencing the Urus in 2019, I whole-heartedly understand why the model is so popular, it’s bonkers!

The Urus accounted for more than 50% of Lamborghini’s sales both in Australia and worldwide.

McLaren sold the same number of cars as 2018, 88 in Australia. But they fared better than the other big British marques Bentley and Aston Martin, who had decreased sales in Australia of 8.2 per cent and 22.8 per cent respectively.

Of the big three Germans, Mercedes Benz had the best result in Australia selling 31,985 vehicles which was a decrease of 0.7 per cent over last year’s figures. BMW sold 23,307 vehicles and achieved a slight increase of 1.1 per cent. Audi on the other hand saw a 19.1 per cent decrease in sales in Australia for 2019. Interestingly SUVs made up the majority of sales for BMW, but for Mercedes Benz it was the sedans/coupes/compacts that were most popular in Australia. Globally Mercedes Benz had the edge over BMW as well with 2,339,562 (1.3% growth) sales compared to 2,168,516 (2.0% growth). The new and revised BMW X models made a significant contribution to this positive development, with sales rising 21.0 per cent to 958,732 vehicles. Globally every third Mercedes-Benz vehicle sold in 2019 was an SUV with sales of about 783,700 units making SUVs Mercedes-Benz’s strongest-selling segment in 2019.

In Australia, Mercedes Benz buyers buck the global trend and buy more sedans/coupes/compacts than SUVs. The Mercedes-AMG C63S is one of the reasons why.

Porsche saw stronger growth than the big three Germans with an increase in sales of 6.4 per cent over 2018 figures, delivering a total of 4,161 vehicles, and this was driven by their SUV models, the Cayenne and Macan, which accounted for just over 80 per cent of all their sales in Australia. Globally Porsche delivered 280,800 vehicles to its customers 10 per cent more than in the previous year and their SUVs featured prominently: the Cayenne was delivered 92,055 times worldwide, an increase of 29 per cent year-on-year and a total of 99,944 Macan vehicles were delivered to customers – an increase of 16 per cent compared with 2018.

Holden beat Ford in one result they would not be celebrating with a sales decrease of 28.9 per cent compared to a decrease of 8.4 per cent for Ford. In fact nine of the top ten marques in Australia saw a reduction in sales with Kia being the only company to increase sales, by 4.6 per cent. Honda had the worst result of the top ten with a 14.9 per cent decrease, Mazda and Nissan were both down 12.3 per cent and Volkswagen was down 11.8 per cent. The other Japanese manufacturer to see a big reduction in sales was Subaru with a 20 per cent fall in 2019.

The Cerato was the best selling model for Kia in 2019.

Of the Luxury brands Volvo had the strongest growth for 2019 of 16.2 per cent and after spending time in quite a few different Volvo models over the past eight weeks I can completely understand why. Volvos feel solidly built, are stylish and have some of the best safety tech of any car currently on sale. Regardless of what style of vehicle that you are looking to purchase next for your new car you should definitely give the Volvo equivalent a test drive before you make your final decision.

The marques that saw the greatest sales growth in Australia in 2019 were manufacturers of cars at the cheaper end of the market. Great Wall had a 78.7 per cent increase in sales of their two models and Haval saw an increase of 169.5 per cent, while the new kid on the block MG had their first full year of sales in Australia and achieved 176.9 per cent growth and LDV had a more modest 6.9 per cent increase.

The new MG HS model is sure to contribute to even better sales for the reborn marque in 2020.

EV/PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid EVs) sales more than doubled from 1,352 in 2018 to 2,925 in 2019. There is a caveat on this data though as it does not include sales of Tesla vehicles as Tesla has a worldwide policy of not reporting their sales data.

Although the Australian economy is slow these new car sales results reflect what the ABS’s latest Household Income and Wealth Australia 2017-18 report shows with well-off Australians pulling away from the rest of the nation. The figures show income growth for average household incomes has stagnated, with virtually no growth since 2013. But high-wealth households have enjoyed substantial gains over the same period, after inflation, the worth of the top 20 per cent rose more than 68 per cent. It is evident that some among this top 20 per cent are buying more high-end vehicles than ever before and the car spotters of Australia can rejoice at that.

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.