Car sales contract in April

By Leith van Onselen

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released new motor vehicle sales data for the month of April:

On a seasonally adjusted basis, new motor vehicle sales fell by -0.7% in April, but were 7.3% higher over the year.

The reduction in sales over the month was driven by passenger motor vehicles (-2.6% MoM; -1.7% YoY) and special utility vehicles (-1.2% MoM; +29.8% YoY). By contrast, the sale of Other vehicles (+5.4% MoM; +7.0% YoY) bucked the trend, with strong growth recorded in April.

Turning to the time series which, due to volatility in the data have been prepared on a 3-month moving average basis (3MMA), you can see that total motor vehicle sales are recovering after being battered in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). However, they remain below their pre-GFC high:

Australia’s changing preference for special utility vehicles (SUVs) is also highly visible on the above chart. Sales of SUVs have been gradually trending upwards just as sales of passenger motor vehicles have been trending down.

A chart of car sales by mainland state is shown below, again on a 3MMA basis. You can see that growth in car sales has been broad-based, with all states recording solid growth over the year, with Western Australia (+11.8%) outperforming.

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Unconventional Economist


  1. Thanks for this, its interesting to see how people are spending money in WA (but not in the rest of the country!). I couldn’t see anything on the link about individual makes and models – you don’t happen to have any information about what the top ten sellers are comprised of? I’m guessing that would be up to the motoring magazines to compile. I’ve heard recently that Ford Falcon has dropped well below 1000 units per month and that there’s a 3 day week at Broadmeadows presently… I’m not sure how sustainable that can be given they obviously aren’t moving the cars they make any longer!

    • Sean, these stats are released monthly in the Vfacts reports by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) on a monthly basis, however it is a paid service. You have to either pay, know somebody with access, or wait for the media to report it as you suggested.

      You can see a bit more data below but not down to brand and model level stats.

      As far as the Ford production line goes, the one production line is a multi-tooled line which produces the regular Falcon, the EcoLPi versions as well as the Territory. Given the gutting of Falcon sales last year (down ~36% to less than 19k units), they now make almost as many of the Territory as they do the Falcon. Without the Territory and the gas donk in the Falcon, it would be dead already, so it’s pretty dire right now. Prior to the diesel engine being introduced to the Territory, the losses were harsh and the future very bleak.

      Tooling costs are far too high to sustain single model production lines with such low volumes so the focus has switched to flexible tooling and automation options.

      If things get worse from here we can look forward to seeing the new front-wheel drive Falcon/Taurus hit the market in a couple of years time.

    • Thanks v. much for this link Technofreak – as I suspected, Falcon is no longer in the top ten and Commodore has sunk to fifth. Camry is number 8 but at least they do have reasonable export volumes (correct me if I’m wrong).

      Doesn’t look good for the future of local manufacturing does it.