A dismal December finally put the brakes on Australia’s expanding new car market. The 2018 sales total of 1,153,111 vehicles was down three per cent on the record figures of 2017, led by a 15 per cent slump last month.
FCAI chief executive Tony Weber says the slowdown reflects challenges with slowing housing markets, tightened money lending and drought across parts of rural Australia.
“In real terms cars have never been more affordable … but Australian consumers are being cautious when making a major financial investment,” Weber says.
The shift to SUVs continues to accelerate, with passenger motor vehicles now representing less than one third of total sales compared to 43 per cent for soft-roaders.
The Toyota HiLux topped the charts for the third year in a row with 51,705 sales, almost 10,000 vehicles clear of the second-placed Ford Ranger.
Weber says 2019 shapes as a major year for future policy on low-emissions vehicles, citing certainty over fuel quality as core issue to address CO2 emissions.
“We will continue to support a mandated fuel standard that is relevant to our market and conditions.
“We take engine technology from Europe, Asia and the US and all the research and development is being driven on the basis of having 10 parts-per-million 95RON fuel. That’s where we need to be.”
Toyota was again the dominant player in the new car game, selling almost a fifth of all vehicles in 2018 and holding down segment leadership in eight categories.
Ford’s sales of Mustangs and Rangers pushed the Blue Oval above rival Holden to fifth place on the sales standings last year.
Toyota Australia sales and marketing vice-president Sean Hanley says customers are increasingly looking at hybrids and references the 40 per cent mix of hybrid Camrys as an indication of how buyers will adopt technology if it is well priced and positioned.
“We’re aiming to have hybrids represent 20 per cent of our sales by 2020,” Hanley says.
TOP 10 DECEMBER MODELS
1. Toyota Hi-Lux 3871
2. Ford Ranger 3365
3. Toyota Corolla 2311
4. Mazda3 2285
5. Isuzu Ute D-Max 2184
6. Mitsubishi Triton 2000
7. Mazda CX-5 1990
8. Hyundai i30 1772
9. Toyota RAV4 1729
10. Toyota LandCruiser 1690
TOP 10 BRANDS 2018
Brand sales market share
Toyota 217,061 18.8%
Mazda 111,280 9.7%
Hyundai 94,187 8.2%
Mitsubishi 84,944 7.4%
Ford 69,081 6.0%
Holden 60,751 5.3%
Kia 58,815 5.1%
Nissan 57,699 5.0%
Volkswagen 56,620 4.9%
Honda 51,525 4.5%