Brakes on new-car sales

A slow­down has put the magic mil­lion in doubt for next year, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

THE global eco­nomic melt­down could slash more than 100,000 sales from the Aus­tralian new-car busi­ness next year. A sec­ond-half slow­down has al­ready re­duced de­mand more than 10 per cent in re­cent months.

Even so, a sec­ond straight mil­lion-plus year should still be achieved. About 1,000,050 cars, trucks and buses are ex­pected to be de­liv­ered by the end of the year.

The out­look for next year is not nearly as strong. The mar­ket­ing chief at Aus­tralia’s sales leader, Toy­ota, be­lieves there will be a sig­nif­i­cant slide.

‘‘I think we can ex­pect a sub-mil­lion year. It will be about 50,000 un­der, at about 950,000,’’ Dave But­tner says. ‘‘That is based on what we can see. If it changes again, who knows?

‘‘Only a few months ago we were fore­cast­ing an­other year of one-mil­lion sales, but that’s now nigh-on im­pos­si­ble. Ev­ery day sce­nario changes.’’

Car­mak­ers are beginning their fight­back against the slump, in­creas­ing spe­cial of­fers to boost value and keep the deals rolling through.

Mit­subishi has a $2008 cash­back pro­gram across its range, in­clud­ing the Lancer.

Holden has its 99 cents-a-litre fuel deal.

Honda, which re­ports a slight down­turn, is also push­ing a pro­gram to keep cus­tomers in­ter­ested.

‘‘We are em­pha­sis­ing the value in our range,’’ mar­ket­ing chief Lind­say Smal­ley says.

Car­mak­ers have huge back­logs of un­sold cars that were or­dered and shipped be­fore the down­turn took hold.

‘‘We’re lucky be­cause we re­act as soon as we see some­thing hap­pen­ing,’’ Smal­ley says, ‘‘Some of the other brands are not as lucky.’’

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Toy­ota ad­mits it has more ve­hi­cles than it needs.

‘‘There is a lot of stock out there for ev­ery­body. In June the mar­ket was tracking at one mil­lion. Now it’s be­low that, so there are more ve­hi­cles around,’’ But­tner says.

‘‘The key thing in our busi­ness is mov­ing the metal. And we don’t back off. We’ll con­tinue our forth­right mar­ket­ing.’’

But­tner says Toy­ota plans a range of val­ueadded deals to the end of the year.

Like ev­ery other com­pany, he is try­ing to boost sales without hurt­ing long-term resid­ual rates in the sec­ond­hand mar­ket.

‘‘We’re very con­scious of resid­u­als. We’re not do­ing any­thing silly or ridicu­lous in that area,’’ he says.

‘‘Value is what we do. We are about sup­port­ing our cus­tomers and our dealers.’’

He be­lieves added value will keep things mov­ing. He says there has never been a bet­ter time to drive a dol­lar deal.

‘‘All the car­mak­ers have a pretty good dig in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber and I think it will be very com­pet­i­tive to the end.’’

Good deals galore: car­mak­ers and dealers ev­ery­where are mak­ing spe­cial of­fers to keep new cars mov­ing through their show­rooms.

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