QUIET BE­FORE THE BAR­GAIN STORM

Sales hit the brakes and deal­ers hold big stocks TOP 10

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page - JOSHUA DOWL­ING

The next few months are shap­ing up as a good time to drive a bar­gain — of­fi­cial fig­ures show new-car sales hit the brakes for the sixth month in a row in Septem­ber. The slow­down means deal­ers head­ing into the qui­etest months on the cal­en­dar are over­stocked and must try to clear end-of-year mod­els.

Septem­ber’s down­turn of 5.5 per cent over the same month last year — to 94,711 re­ported sales — doesn’t tell the full story.

Deal­ers claim the fig­ures are in­flated and the real po­si­tion is much worse.

One ma­jor met­ro­pol­i­tan dealer says “there was a mad scram­ble” in the last days of the month to re­port cars as sold. “My phone was ring­ing off the hook with (sev­eral brands) push­ing cars down my neck,” he says.

“I couldn’t take as many as they wanted but I know other deal­ers who did. (Of­fi­cial) fig­ures are a com­plete dis­tor­tion of what’s hap­pen­ing in the mar­ket. It’s ac­tu­ally much worse.”

Sales fig­ures pub­lished by the Fed­eral Cham­ber of Au­to­mo­tive In­dus­tries are based on in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by deal­ers and car com­pa­nies, not on ac­tual reg­is­tra­tions.

That means a car com­pany can count the sale with­out the dealer reg­is­ter­ing the ve­hi­cle or sell­ing it to a pay­ing cus­tomer.

In­dus­try in­sid­ers say any­where from 10 to 20 per cent of ve­hi­cles in a given month are “cy­ber cars”, a term given to ve­hi­cles counted as sold on a com­puter but not in the real world.

“The mar­ket is flat, we’re not get­ting the in­quiry we nor­mally do at this time of year, every­one’s feel­ing it,” says a vet­eran lead­ing multi-fran­chise dealer.

“(The brands we sell) are off 20 to 40 per cent on the same month last year, not the 5 per cent that the in­dus­try would have you be­lieve.”

In de­fence of the way sales fig­ures are tal­lied, the FCAI says ve­hi­cles are not counted twice How­ever, “cy­ber cars” counted as sold can sit in stock for months or even into the fol­low­ing year.

Toy­ota and Hyundai sales re­mained steady but half of the top 10 brands posted sig­nif­i­cant de­clines. Ford sales de­clined by 25 per cent and Holden has dropped 32 per cent, to ninth place.

Utes re­main strong, with the Toy­ota HiLux ex­tend­ing its lead over the Ford Ranger and the Nis­san Navara and Mit­subishi Tri­ton also mak­ing it into the Top 10. Pas­sen­ger car sales con­tin­ued to slide in favour of SUVs, with the Toy­ota Corolla down 4.5 per cent and for­mer favourite the Mazda3 down by 33.6 per cent.

Lux­ury brands still faced a head­wind, with Land Rover down 31 per cent, Mercedes down 24 per cent, Audi off by 11 per cent, Lexus down by 5 per cent and BMW dip­ping 2.5 per cent.

Buoyed by new mod­els and buck­ing the trend, Volvo more than dou­bled sales over the same month last year.

The FCAI says the over­all de­cline was led by falls in pri­vate sales (down 15.8 per cent) and gov­ern­ment fleets (2.6 per cent).Busi­ness fleet pur­chases were rel­a­tively flat, up by 0.3 per cent. BRANDS Toy­ota Hyundai Mit­subishi Mazda Nis­san Ford Subaru Volk­swa­gen Holden Honda

CARS

Toy­ota HiLux Ford Ranger Toy­ota Corolla Hyundai i30 Mit­subishi ASX Nis­san X-Trail Mit­subishi Tri­ton Mazda3 Nis­san Navara Toy­ota RAV4 TALLY 17,386 8110 7622 7070 5167 5084 4758 4694 4651 4528

Sales are slow­ing slightly, says FCAI chief ex­ec­u­tive Tony We­ber, “af­ter the in­dus­try has pro­duced five years of record sales over the past six years. Year to date sales are just 0.9 per cent be­low last year. This demon­strates the in­her­ent strength of the mar­ket. The de­cline in pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle sales and cor­re­spond­ing growth in SUVs also shows that the tra­di­tional fam­ily car con­tin­ues to evolve in Aus­tralia.”

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