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News - VFACTS - Sales 2010

Private buyers save the day

Market cracks: Sales of light commercials such as Holden's Colorado slipped in June, despite record car sales.

Mixed signals in June sales figures as tradies drive out of the market

20 Jul 2010

THE euphoria surrounding record June vehicle sales hid signs of weakness in some key sectors.

The overall sales tally of 108,772 vehicles – up 5875 units on June last year and ahead of the previous record month in June 2008 – implied the industry could achieve more than one million units in a calendar year for the third time. But the June VFACTS figures contained mixed signals.

For example, anyone hoping for strong demand from the business sector, especially in 4x2 pick-ups and vans, should not hold their breath. It is now clear that those who took advantage of the June 2009 deadline for business depreciation tax benefits are now out of the market for some years.

The good news is that, despite interest rate pressures and niggling concerns over the economic news out of Europe, Australian private car buyers were out in force, and it was their demand for new light and small passenger cars and compact and medium SUVs that created the record.

The chart shows the percentage volume difference between the June half year with the June half year in 2009 and the June performance against June 2009. A key indicator of market strength is whether the June-on-June volumes are holding as well as the half year-on-half year numbers. Where the June-on-June was weaker, demand in that segment is easing.

106 center imageLeft: Toyota HiAce. Below: Holden Caprice.

Four keys segments, all the domain of private buyers, drove the record June and also drove the strong first half of this year. Compact and medium SUVs as well as light and small cars experienced significant growth both in half-year-on-half-year and in June-on-June sales.

Pick-ups and cab-chassis 4x2s, which had not held their ground in the half year, were looking short of support in June with sales down 28 per cent in the June-on-June numbers. This indicates the “tradies” now have what they need and may not be back for a while.

Vans, up marginally in the half year, also had a terrible June – off 27 per cent on the previous year. In fact, in June all but two of the van entries (Citroen Berlingo and Hyundai iLoad) lost ground, with many more than 50 per cent off the pace on the previous June.

Light trucks were up on the half year but were 19 per cent behind June 2009.

Pick-ups and cab-chassis 4x4s had a good first half but here, too, there were signs of weakness in the June numbers reflecting rural buyers upgrading a year ago on the back of the tax break.

Upper large (Holden Statesman/Caprice and Chrysler 300C) was off the pace in both half year and June numbers. Other segments looking weaker in June were large, people-movers and large SUVs.

Light bus sales were up more than 30 per cent on the month, driven by a good month in Toyota HiAce buses. This resulted in a strong first half as well, although it is only a small segment.

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