Tax hike, downturn bite
The party’s over as sales hit a slump, writes PAUL GOVER
CAR sales took a dive last month. A buyers’ strike in the luxury classes, coupled with falling consumer confidence resulted in a significant reversal of the strong results of the past two years.
Most carmakers are reporting much softer demand and even successful brands are eating into their order banks for popular models.
Official sales results for July show a 4.9 per cent drop in demand for passenger cars compared with the same period last year, and that triggered an overall fall of 2.7 per cent or 2315 vehicles. Sales of SUVs were also down but the boom in the resources sector resulted in deliveries of light trucks improving by 897 vehicles, or 6.7 per cent.
The downturn is only viewed as a ‘‘softening’’ by the peak body for the motor industry, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, but the Senate review of the planned increase in the luxury car tax sparked a special emphasis — and some lobbying.
‘‘The proposed tax hike has had a devastating impact on new-car sales,’’ FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar says.
‘‘It is clear the downturn has been exacerbated by the impact of this unfair tax hike, and the industry has significant concerns that orders will continue to be affected in coming months.’’
But the VFacts figures still show an overall improvement this year, with the running total at the end of last month up 2.6 per cent and 16,004 vehicles. That still points to a millionplus sales year, though any long-term downturn could easily cut that figure.
In the individual showroom classes, the continuing downturn in large cars slashed another 9.7 per cent from demand compared with July last year, people-mover deliveries were down 20.9 per cent and even small-car sales fell 3.1 per cent.
Overall demand for SUVs might have fallen, but demand was still up slightly for medium and luxury four-wheel drives.
Toyota continues its run as the best-selling brand in July with 24.4 per cent of sales, followed by Holden with 13.3 per cent and Ford with 11.3 per cent. Mazda, Mitsubishi and Nissan filled the next three place.
In the overall sales race, Toyota has a 69,690-vehicle lead over Holden with a total of 147,961 sales to the end of July, with the red team on 78,271 and Ford on 63,933.
Mazda was one of the first to trumpet a positive result for July, recording the best total on record for the month, but Nissan and Mitsubishi went slightly backwards.
Under pressure: sales of luxury cars such as the Honda Legend have been throttled by the Federal Government’s planned tax hike.