New car sales across Australia have slipped again, as uncertainty about federal politics and softening house prices across the country put the brakes on big-ticket spending.
Almost every car company posted losses compared to their February 2018 sales, including the industry’s powerhouse, Toyota. It fell 10 percent year on year, the company's worst figure in two years.
Just over 87,100 new vehicles were sold in February 2019, a dip of 9.3 percent on the same period last year. On a year-to-date basis, Australians have bought more than 169,000 new cars so far this year, representing a decrease of 8.4 percent over the same period in 2018.
Auto industry spokesman, FCAI chief Tony Weber says the softer sales are due to a combination federal election pending, several key new models coming on stream and the housing market bubble bursting in both Sydney and Melbourne.
“Given the current challenging economic conditions, including a downturn in the housing market, the automotive industry is not surprised by the slower start to the year,” said Weber.
In light of the impending arrival of its new Mazda 3 small car, Mazda did well to stem its losses to just seven percent to retain second place overall in the Australian market, while strong performances from its new Triton and evergreen ASX saw Mitsubishi (up 19 percent in February and 22 percent YOY) leapfrog Hyundai (down 19 percent) for third place overall.
Softer sales for some of its mainstream cars, including the Tucson and i30, pushed Hyundai into fourth with a fall of 19 percent, just ahead of Ford which dropped just six percent over its February 2018 mark.
Kia managed to buck the trend, lifting four percent and pipping a softening Volkswagen by some 800 cars for the month to hold sixth. A bright spot for VW came via its Skoda brand, though, which posted a 21 percent increase in its fortunes thanks to an improvement in supply.
Nissan (down 19 percent), Honda (off 22 percent) and Holden (down 18 percent in February) make up the rest of the top ten. However, Holden holds seventh place overall in total sales for 2019 thus far, with VW (down 11 percent) taking the tenth spot.
In eleventh place is Subaru, down an astonishing 48 percent for the month, and 33 percent year-on-year. Its Impreza sedan is down by 1000 sales from this time last year, and its popular XV compact SUV has halved its sales numbers over the same period.
Subaru says that the recent factory closure to amend a steering defect has affected its Australian deliveries.
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The rot has also set in with some luxury brands dropping big numbers. Mercedes-Benz is down 18 percent year on year and Audi a worrying 27 percent, while Porsche has fallen 51 percent over the same time last year.
Porsche says the turndown was due to a reset in Macan stock levels in the run-up to the new model.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though, with luxury brands like Jaguar (up 36 percent) and Volvo (up 32 percent) posting growth.