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VFACTS: Car sales recover in June

Say Hi: Tradies and other business buyers steered heavily towards Toyota’s HiLux in June, taking it to record sales of more than 6500 for the month.

Monster month for HiLux signifies market rebound but industry ‘not out of woods yet’

3 Jul 2020

THE Australian car industry has staged a phenomenal comeback in defiance of the crippling coronavirus pandemic and economic recession, selling more than 110,000 new vehicles in June to stand only 6.4 per cent down on the corresponding month a year ago.


Official VFACTS figures released today show the market has fallen 20 per cent after the first half of trading this year, and Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) chief executive Tony Weber was quick to emphasise that the sector “is still under high pressure” and “not out of the woods yet”.


The head of the Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA), James Voortman, also cautioned that “we need to keep some perspective – it is still more than 7500 units down on June 2019 and stands as the 27th month of consecutive decline in sales”.


However, Australian consumers and businesses returned to new-vehicle showrooms in force last month to take advantage of enticing end-of-financial-year deals and the federal government’s valuable instant asset write-off scheme, particularly homing in on the pick-up/cab-chassis segment in which the Toyota HiLux racked up a remarkable 6537 sales for the month – up 21.1 per cent and an all-time record.


If HiLux was a motor company, the ute would have finished in sixth position on the brand sales charts – outselling the likes of Kia, Nissan, Volkswagen, Subaru and Honda – and reflects Toyota’s sheer dominance in a downtrodden marketplace where last month the Japanese auto giant sent 22,867 vehicles out from showrooms and onto roads that only a few months ago were largely empty. 


This was eight per cent more than Brand T achieved during last year’s EOFY sell-a-thon and enough to secure its now-accustomed share of more than 20 per cent of the total market.


The result also included five of the top eight best-selling vehicles in the nation, with important supporting roles for HiLux played by Corolla (3008), LandCruiser (2909), RAV4 (2632) and Prado (2372). 


Note the bias here towards off-road and lifestyle vehicles as Australians – particularly those in states and territories where restrictions are easing more quickly – prepare for the onslaught of domestic, rather than overseas, tourism in the months ahead.


Importantly, sales to businesses rose 6.3 per cent last month – the growth driven hard by tradies and small operators investing in new utes – while sales in Western Australia, South Australia and the ACT climbed 3.2, 3.6 and 13.6 per cent respectively. 


The two biggest markets – New South Wales and Victoria – were down 7.7 and 13.6 per cent respectively, but the third, Queensland, showed strong signs of recovery, slipping only 1.8 per cent.


With that in mind, Toyota was not alone in bringing a level of optimism back into the industry after a crushing first half of the year in which the COVID-19 crisis sent the nation into lockdown and car sales plummeted 17.9 per cent in March, 48.5 per cent in April and 35.3 per cent in May. 


Ford also impressed with a 6.6 per cent uptick in sales volume last month and fourth position overall based on 7624 registrations – 70 per cent of which went directly to new owners of its all-important Australian-developed Ranger pick-up, which was second only to HiLux as Australia’s Most Wanted (5329, +9.9%).


Mercedes-Benz was the other standout performer among the leading brands, its Cars division (not including commercial vehicles) achieving 4437 sales last month for a 31.4 per cent upswing that saw it not only reassert its leadership of the premium sector but outsell Nissan and various other mainstream players to land eighth position overall. 


This is another important marker of recovery for the industry, with the top premium brands all back firing. 


BMW continued its strong run of positive results with a record 3307 sales last month (+32.0%), Audi’s resurgence was similarly evident with 2027 units (+84.6%), and a host of other high-end marques shrugged off – or continued to ignore – the coronavirus blues: Lexus (1560, +60.8%), Volvo (1113, +40.0%), Porsche (519, +13.8%), Mercedes Vans (996, +48.0%) and Ram (604, +130.5%), just to name a handful.


For those leading brands that did not return to growth, none suffered a deficit of more than 23 per cent and most would be satisfied that the deep and worrying declines experienced from March through to May now appear to be behind them.


Mazda was second behind Toyota with 9420 sales (-12.8%), while Hyundai, which retained third position with 7737 sales (-22.6%), is now targeting a strong second half after another tough month. 


As Ford secured fourth, Mitsubishi was next best with 7419 sales – down 16.6 per cent for the month, but with the Triton pick-up in positive territory (2721, +1.0%) and fifth overall among the top sellers – while Volkswagen (5737) stumbled only slightly with a 1.0 per cent decline that placed it ahead of Kia, which took a rare 20.5 per cent hit and was 10 units further afield. 


Mercedes Cars’ eighth placing left Nissan in ninth as the Japanese brand fell 22.7 per cent to 4260 units, while Subaru rounded out the top 10 with 3775 sales (-18.2%).


Holden? The Australian lion brand’s exit from Australia is nearing completion with only 1912 sales recorded last month, down 60.3 per cent on June last year.


In comparison, the fast-growing Chinese car-makers are continuing to shine in defiance of the market downturn, MG leading the way again with 1348 sales (+32.9%), followed by LDV which turned in a record month with 1052 units – up 31.0 per cent on June last year as the brand passed 20,000 cumulative sales in Australia since launching in 2014.


Haval (371, +99.5%) and Great Wall (243 +33.5%) were also in positive territory last month.


Overall, the 110,234 vehicles sold in June took the industry’s first-half total to 442,415 units, down 20.2 per cent on the same period last year. 


Mr Weber attributed the “slight recovery” last month to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, seasonality, the extension of the instant asset write-off scheme, and proactive measures taken by car-makers and their dealers, most notably a strong surge in marketing activity.


He said stimulus packages from the federal government, such as JobKeeper and JobSeeker, had also “helped to restore some consumer confidence and supported the small bounce back during June”.


“However, there’s no doubt that the new vehicle industry in Australia is still under high pressure.  We’re not out of the woods yet,” he said.



Top 10 Brands June 2020

Ranking Brands Sales Share %
1 Toyota 22,867 20.7
2 Mazda 9420 8.5
3 Hyundai 7737 7.0
4 Ford 7624 6.9
5 Mitsubishi 7419 6.7
6 Volkswagen 5737 5.2
7 Kia 5727 5.2
8 Mercedes Cars 4437 4.0
9 Nissan 4260 3.9
10 Subaru 3775 3.4


Top 10 Models June 2020


Ranking Model Sales
1 Toyota HiLux 6537
2 Ford Ranger  5329
3 Toyota Corolla 3008
4 Toyota LandCruiser 2909
5 Mitsubishi Triton 2721
6 Toyota RAV4  2632
7 Mazda CX-5 2530
8 Toyota Prado  2374
9 Hyundai i30 2368
10 Hyundai Tucson 2206

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