In 2021, just over one million new vehicles were sold in Australia with SUVs and light commercial vehicles continuing to dominate the market. Research has repeatably shown that women influence at least 80% of all new car purchases, so this headline figure is most likely an underestimate of the true number.
Despite this, a recent Are Media survey found that only one in three women (35%) said they found auto ads persuasive when it comes to deciding which brands to consider before purchasing and 80% said they were not represented in car advertising at all. While Carsales.com.au research found that only 18% of female buyers were satisfied with their dealership experience even though they find it important to go into one when looking to buy a new car.
Toyota was the highest selling brand again for the year in Australia, with 223,642 vehicles sold resulting in 21.3 per cent of overall market share. In second place was Mazda (101,119 vehicles sold, 9.6 per cent market share). In third place was Hyundai (72,872 vehicles sold, 6.9 per cent). In fourth place was Ford (71,380 vehicles sold, 6.8 per cent market share). Fifth place went to Kia (67,964 vehicles sold, 6.5 per cent market share).
Toyota also had two of the top three selling cars for 2021 with the HiLux once again taking out this gong with almost 53,000 sold and RAV4 selling 35,751. The two Toyotas were split by the Ford Ranger with just over 50,000 of these driving off the showroom floor. This is a strong result for Toyota despite the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 restrictions and continued parts shortages impacting their production plants.
Savvy.com.au reports that the cost of car ownership is on the rise in Australia according to the Australian Automobile Association. Australians spend 14.8% of our income on transport costs as a national average – most of which is comprised of car loan repayments ($166.48), fuel ($78.04), and servicing/tyres ($30.13) with the annual average cost of running a medium sized car being $13,782. This all rose sharply since Q4 2020, where total costs rose from $309.92 per week to $367.63 per week. These increased costs are reflected in the sales of less expensive cars in Australia with brands like MG, LDV and GWM all seeing a big jump in 2021.
FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber said that in the context of pandemic restrictions limiting access to dealerships and international supply issues, the new vehicle market in Australia remains positive.
“Despite the pandemic restricting access to showrooms in 2021, Australian consumers found ways to purchase new vehicles and did so in solid numbers,” Mr Weber said.
“The global shortage of microprocessors, compounded by the pandemic, had an impact on the number of cars sold throughout Australia. Automotive manufacturers are continuing to work to strengthen supply chains in 2022.”
Sales of hybrid vehicles grew to 7% (70,466 units) of all new Passenger, SUV, Light Commercial sold in 2021 compared to 6.8% (58,581) in 2020. Electric vehicles saw an increase in sales of 191.1 per cent on 2020 figures (5,149 compared to 1,769), but they still only represent 0.5% of the Passenger, SUV, Light Commercial sales (this figure excludes Tesla sales, which are not reported). Hydrogen power is the new fuel type to go on sale in Australia in 2021 with 38 units sold.
Of the luxury car brands Aston Martin saw the greatest sales increase in 2021, up 52.2% on 2020 figures as a result of sales of their SUV, the DBX. McLaren also had a good year with sales up 39.7% on 2020, Bentley was up 32.7%, while Maserati was up 19.9%, Lamborghini up 18%, Rolls-Royce up 14.3% and Ferrari down 5.4%.
Sales to women in the high-end performance car market are around 10% based on the evidence I have uncovered. However, I believe this could be increased if more women were seen driving these cars and not being intimidated by them, because there is nothing to be scared about if you ask me. Or even if a woman did not want to buy a half a million dollar plus supercar for herself they may be more inclined to allow their other half buy one if they saw the benefits for them as well?
Volvo had the strongest result of the other big European high-end car manufacturers seeing 17.2% growth in sales for 2021 with the XC40 and XC60 being the most popular models, both excellent SUVs in my opinion. Three of the four German manufacturers had smaller gains with BMW up 5.8%, Porsche up 4.4%, Audi up 0.9% and Mercedes-Benz cars down 3.8%.
For car manufacturers to further improve their sales figures they must first look at why their current engagement strategies with women are not working. Only a quarter of women (28%) surveyed by Are Media said that automotive marketing was relevant to them and reflected their life and family. Values are also important with over half of the women agreeing that a car brand’s values need to align with their own and that a car brand should have specific values that they stand for.
Test driving a new car is still very important in the sales journey with 94% of people doing at least two test drives on average. From a dealership perspective, to make this a positive experience for the potential buyer the dealership should be clean and tidy and the staff attentive and friendly. Applying pressure for the buyer to sign on the day, failing to communicate, and waiting too long for a salesperson to greet the customer and look after their needs were the three top negative experiences that buyers reported in the Carsales research.
With an uncertain start to 2022 it will be very interesting to see how new car sales figures will fluctuate over the coming year? One thing is for certain though, the importance of women in the new car purchasing journey will continue, as pressure increases on household budgets.
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.