Last year, for the first time ever, Australians bought more German cars than they did locally-produced models.
Figures supplied by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) show that of the 1,178,333 new vehicles sold in Australia in 2016, 87,392 were built in Germany while 87,096 were Australian-made cars. Sales of both were down, but the 11 per cent fall in locally-made sales was enough to see German manufacturers surpass Australian makers.
A decade ago, Australian-made cars outsold German vehicles by 201,623 to 32,829 units, and even five years ago they were almost double: 141,939 versus 75,901.
Germany is now the fourth-largest source of vehicles sold in Australia, behind Japan (325,689), Thailand (285,465) and Korea (162,642).
The results indicate that Australians are moving away from buying large cars in favour of imported luxury models.
In 2016, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW and Porsche all enjoyed record sales years in Australia, with growth of between 5.1 per cent and 13.3 per cent. It comes off the back of a record year for luxury brands in which almost all posted growth ahead of the 2.0 per cent growth experienced by the overall market.
A large factor in the figures is of course the demise of the Australian car manufacturing industry.
Ford closed its manufacturing facilities late last year, while Toyota and Holden will shut theirs later this year.
While the Holden Commodore and Toyota Camry were still in the list of top 10 selling vehicles, each saw a drop in sales – as did every other every Australian-made car.
Chief Executive of the FCAI, Tony Weber, attributed the result to a number of factors, including general economic prosperity and a broader range of luxury models on offer.
“Luxury brands have more affordable vehicles in the market than they had in the past,” Mr Weber said.
“It’s also got to do with the wealth of people in the nation; we’re now in our 25th year of economic growth.”
Mr Weber also pointed to the personalisation available on luxury models, which allows people to customise a car to their tastes.