The retail automotive industry is on track to break last year’s record number of new car sales, after the second-best July result in history and a strong business performance in August and September.

Australians bought 91,331 new cars in July, 94,909 in August and 102,696 in September, taking the year-to-date total to 887,076. That’s 2.8 per cent ahead of the same time last year according to VFACTS figures supplied by the FCAI.

Sales of SUVs and light commercial vehicles are driving the market, both up by more than 10 per cent on August 2015 figures. SUV sales were up 6.8 per cent in September compared with the same time last year and are up 9.9 per cent for the year to date. Those sales are compensating for weaker passenger vehicles figures, which were down 8.7 per cent on September 2015 and 5.8 per cent for the year to date.


SUVs steal passenger car sales

The demand for SUVs continues unabated, now accounting for 37.4 per cent of the market. SUVs are challenging passenger cars for the dominant share of the market, with the latter down from a 45.5 per cent share in September 2015 to 41.0 per cent in September 2016. Light commercials are also rising, up to 18.6 per cent of the market for the year to date.

Strong business sales

Business sales rose 21.5 per cent in August compared with the same time last year. This was driven by massive increases in sales of SUVs (up 31.2 per cent) and light commercials (up 34.4 per cent) to business customers.

Thailand on top

For the first time ever, Thailand became Australia’s leading supplier of cars. Australians bought 23,803 vehicles imported from Thailand in July, surpassing the 23,359 imported from Japan. It did so on the back of strong figures in the light commercial utility and cab-chassis segments, where it was number one.

Other Key Points

The September 2016 market of 102,696 new vehicle sales is an increase of 1,304 vehicle sales or 1.3% on September 2015 (101,392) vehicle sales. September 2016 (26) had the same number of selling days as September 2015, which resulted in an increase of 50.2 vehicle sales per day.

The September 2016 industry volume is up by 7,787 or 8.2% on August 2016 (94,909) vehicles.

The Passenger Vehicle Market is down 4,008 vehicle sales (-8.7%) over the same month last year; the Sports Utility Market is up by 2,529 vehicle sales (6.8%); the Light Commercial Market is up by 2,766 vehicle sales (17.9%), and the Heavy Commercial Vehicle Market is up by 17 vehicle sales (0.6%) versus September 2015.

Chief Executive of the FCAI Tony Weber said that despite the potential for a post-financial year market ease, particularly in the wake of a lengthy federal election campaign, buyer confidence remained strong.

“The ongoing strength of SUV sales especially among business buyers is bringing a healthy momentum to the market,” he said.

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