New car sales in March provide early indication of COVID-19 impact on the Australian economy

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), the peak body for the automotive industry, has released new vehicle sales figures for the month of March 2020. This is some of the earliest economic data released since the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on the Australian economy.

For the month of March there was a negative growth of 17.9 per cent when compared to March 2019 and are mainly attributed to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the general economy.

Toyota was the best-selling brand in March, with 17,583 sales recorded.  In second place was Mazda with 6,819 sales, followed by Mitsubishi with 6,002 sales, Kia with 5,654 sales and Hyundai with 5,306 sales. Kia bucked the negative trend for March and actually increased sales for the month by 4.5%. Other car companies who recorded positive growth for the year to date include HAVAL (up 171%), MG (up 93%), Great Wall (up 65.5%) and LDV (up 10.7%).

Ferrari increased sales by 7.6% for the year to date in 2020.

Of the luxury car brands in positive territory, who sell in much smaller volumes, Rolls-Royce was up 20% to 10 vehicles for the year, Aston Martin was up 12.5% to 27 vehicles for the year, Porsche was up 11.5% to 1,153 vehicles for the year and Ferrari was up 7.6% to 71 vehicles for the year.

Having a look at sales by fuel type also showed some interesting trends with electric and hybrid vehicles increasing sales while ICE powered vehicle sales decreased. The table below summarises the year to date information (please note this does not include Tesla vehicles as they do not report sales volumes).

Vehicle Type% change YTD
Passenger – Electric+ 83
Passenger – Hybrid+ 53
SUV – Electric– 22%
SUV – Hybrid + 1,512
Passenger – ICE– 27%
SUV – ICE– 9%
Private and non-private vehicles included in calculations.

Tony Weber, chief executive of the FCAI, said that despite the difficult conditions, numerous automotive dealerships around Australia remained open.

“Many dealerships have opted to remain open to maintain support for customers, particularly from a service perspective, during this difficult period. Of particular importance are first responder and essential services vehicles.  We must keep these vehicles on the road to ensure our communities continue to function and remain safe. In addition, we need to ensure those who physically attend their workplace can travel safely.  The motor vehicle is a safe form of transport during the pandemic, allowing occupants to preserve their personal distance from other commuters. Within dealerships, customer safety is of the highest priority, and automotive brands have initiated a variety of enhanced hygiene protocols and contactless consultations to maintain personal distance,” said Mr Weber.

Ford Australia has introduced complimentary Pick Up and Drop Off for your car servicing.

Ford Australia customers now have access to a new ‘Ford Pick Up and Drop Off service’, an initiative that offers customers a complimentary, convenient vehicle pick up and drop off solution when their car needs servicing or warranty repair during the COVID-19 emergency.

The initiative is designed to make life easier for Australian customers, helping them cross another item off their to-do list during this difficult time so they can focus on other things, knowing their vehicle is serviced and ready when they need it.

“The Ford Pick Up and Drop Off Service provides our service customers the reassurance they can get necessary vehicle work completed without leaving home, and the peace of mind that their vehicle is disinfected afterwards,” said Kay Hart, President and CEO, Ford Australia and New Zealand. “We’re pleased to be working with our dealers to find ways to ensure customers can continue to enjoy uninterrupted and safe services during this time.”

Removing the need for customers to physically bring their vehicles in for scheduled maintenance, the complimentary Ford Pick Up and Drop Off Service will be initially available at participating dealers until 30 June 2020

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.