While COVID-19 seems likely to decimate new vehicle sales, the Australian car market has been in a downswing that started long before the virus took hold.

    New vehicle sales in this country have been in decline for 24 successive months. The blame has been put on finance-sector reform, the drought and bushfires, reduced economic confidence, and fluctuating exchange rates, among other things.

    The sum of all new vehicle sales over the past 24 months (from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2020) totals 2,157,801 units.

    The sum of new vehicles sold over the previous 24-month period (April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2018) equals 2,373,459 units.

    Car sales: 24 months in decline, how did your brand fare?

    That means the overall new vehicle market has contracted by 9.1 percent over the past two years compared to the previous two.

    It also means that in the past two years, Australian people and companies purchased 215,658 fewer vehicles than over the preceding two-year window, a monthly mean drop of 8985 units.

    What’s more interesting is to delve a little deeper into the data, supplied by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI). For instance, comparing the fortunes of the top 30 car brands over the total period.

    Market leader Toyota has done relatively well, with its sales declining by only 2.7 percent over the last 24 months compared to the 24 months preceding them. This figure is lower than the overall market decline, so the brand therefore saw an increase in its market share.

    Car sales: 24 months in decline, how did your brand fare?

    The next pair in the running order fared worse, with Mazda falling by 14.5 percent and Hyundai by 12.3 percent.

    Mitsubishi actually grew its sales over the period by 4.2 per cent, and so overtook Ford which fell by 19.6 percent.

    The big grower was Kia, which has increased its sales by 19 per cent over the last 24 months.

    Nissan’s sales fell 15.2 percent, Volkswagen’s by 9.9 percent, Holden’s by a massive 45.2 percent (which makes it easier to see why the brand was retired), Honda’s sales fell 3.4 percent so grew its actual share of the smaller pie, Subaru’s by 16.4 percent, and Mercedes-Benz conserved its share and remained luxury leader despite falling 8.7 percent.

    Isuzu Ute bucked the trend and grew 4.7 per cent, BMW’s tally shrank 9.8 per cent, Suzuki’s by 11.6 percent, Audi’s by 26 percent in some part due to supply snags, whereas Lexus grew 3.1 percent thanks to its strong-selling SUV range. Land Rover’s sales fell 30.3 percent and Renault’s by 21.5 percent.

    Car sales: 24 months in decline, how did your brand fare?

    Next we have a few smaller-scale brands that have grown sales of late, and increased their market share in the process. Volvo Car’s new SUV range means it has grown 41.9 per cent, Chinese arrival MG has over-performed and grown nearly 1600 percent (852 sales to 14,397), Skoda grew 29 percent, and LDV grew 154.5 percent thanks to the arrival of its T60 ute. 

    Jeep’s sales declined 36 percent, Porsche’s by 10.9 percent, Mini’s by 15.1 percent, Peugeot’s by 14.8 percent, Jaguar’s by 8.5 percent, and Fiat’s by 37 percent.

    Ram Trucks, which are converted to right-hand drive in Melbourne, grew in sales by 509.5 percent to 4157 units over the last 24m thanks to the 1500 pickup.

    China’s Haval grew its sales 149 percent, its Great Wall ute brand by 313.6 percent, Alfa Romeo grew 13.3 percent, and Infiniti – which is now discontinued from Australia – shrank 12.2 percent.

    BRANDLast 24 monthsPrev. 24 months% Change -/+
    Isuzu Ute51,80849,4974.7
    Land Rover17,86425,632-30.3
    Volvo Car 14,73610,38241.9
    Great Wall2,486601313.6
    Alfa Romeo2,0681,82513.3

    Any questions? Ask away in the comments!

    Mike Costello
    Mike Costello is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
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