Tax hike, down­turn bite

The party’s over as sales hit a slump, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

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.

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