Car sales keep breaking records in August 2017

Andrew Munro 8 September 2017 NEWS

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Australia's car market is dropping off passengers and picking up SUVs.

Australia's car sales continue their record-breaking streak into August, now marking four consecutive months of record sales. 96,662 cars were moved in August 2017, a solid 1.8% increase over the year before.

Compared to the same time last year, light passenger car sales are up a significant 7%. But this is still dwarfed by SUV sales, which have already proven to be strong sellers even when the rest of the market dips. August also saw 22.8% more small SUV sales and 14% more medium SUV sales than a year ago.

Overall passenger vehicle sales are down 8.2%, but this was more than compensated for by light passenger car sales skewing upwards and SUV sales leaping upwards. Light commercial vehicle sales, on the other hand, outpaced both. Pickups and cab-chassis light commercial vehicles rose 23% overall compared to the same last year, with the bulk of that being to private buyers rather than businesses.

Tony Weber, chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), ascribes the exceptionally strong SUV and light commercial sales to a healthy level of competition and marketplace variety.

"More new models coming into the market in both these segments is creating strong consumer interest and helping to fuel the industry’s momentum," he said.

Despite an 8.2% decline in passenger vehicle sales compared to a year ago, the increase in SUV and commercial vehicle sales has been enough to turn August into another record-breaker. Weber doesn't see it dropping off either, saying that as long as the contributing factors stay in place, "sales during the back half of the year will keep us on track for another record year."

Unsurprisingly, SUVs and commercial vehicles are dominating the best-seller lists, with Toyota Hilux remaining the country’s best-selling vehicle in August (4,287 sales), followed by the Ford Ranger (3,588). The Toyota Corolla took third place (2,948), while the Hyundai Tucson (2,206) and Mazda3 (2,163) took fourth and fifth respectively.

As Australians' driving preferences shift, so do brand market shares. Toyota still dominates as Australia's leading brand with its Hilux workhorse, but Toyota Corolla sales figures are dropping off in line with the dropping passenger car market, and brands with strong SUVs in their portfolio might be reclaiming the passenger car market.

If you're in the market, it might be worth trying to pick out an over-expected but under-performing brand to see if you can get one for less. Remember to compare car loans, too. You don't want to find a good sticker price only to lose out on uncompetitive financing.

In car news

Picture: Shutterstock

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