QUIET BEFORE THE BARGAIN STORM
Sales hit the brakes and dealers hold big stocks TOP 10
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
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.”