Vital signs picking up
IT LOOKS as if the showroom downturn in Australian motoring has finally bottomed. The huge slide from the end of last year was nowhere near as bad as that in most other countries, and there are signs of a rebound.
The picture is not clear yet because the Federal Government’s investment allowance has created so much extra demand, but three of the biggest import brands are all pointing to a second-half upswing.
‘‘It looks as if the danger and the hard things are over. It’s just a matter of working steadily back up,’’ Doug Dickson, managing director of Mazda Australia, says.
‘‘We’re not looking at a selling rate at the 2003 or 2004 level, which wasn’t a bad thing.’’
Rob McEniry, the boss of Mitsubishi Motors Australia, says: ‘‘We’re fairly optimistic about a steady, slow and sustainable recovery.’’
McEniry knows better than almost anyone about the tough times, but managed to bank a $1 million profit after flipping Mitsubishi’s local operation from an emphasis on local manufacturing to a full-line import brand.
Nissan was most bullish during a series of briefings in the past week. Chief executive Dan Thompson highlighted the positives for Australia.
‘‘Not only did we not go as deep as anyone else, we’ve come out with a massive spike in May and June — far bigger than any other developed country’s,’’ he says. ‘‘Global demand is coming back but we’ve had an abnormal spike. A lot of cars were sold in May and June that could not be delivered and reported.’’
Thompson, like McEniry and Dickson, is worried about the sustainability of the early recovery but believes Australia is back on track. He predicts more incentive-driven action in the final quarter but is forecasting the start of steady recovery next year.
‘‘We believe we’ll settle back in January, February and March of 2010 and go from there,’’ Thompson says.
Rebound: car bosses say the showroom recovery should be steady, slow and sustainable.