Record car sales defy slowing economy

Australia’s economy may be slowing but you wouldn’t know it from the new car sales. In 2015 we bought new cars in record numbers – 1,155,408 of them in fact.

Australians are really taking to the range of new models with their features and comforts in one of the world’s most competitive car markets.

The high level of choice in the Australian new car market is delivering Australian consumers’ access to high-quality vehicles at record affordability levels,” said Tony Weber, chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

In addition, the competitiveness of the market has seen new car buyers access an extensive range of finance options and genuine service offers that maintain the value and integrity of the vehicle.

It is clear that there has never been a better time to buy a new car,” Weber said.

Luxury cars were the standout performers in this buoyant market, with sales of exotic sports cars over $200,000 up a remarkable 17.3 per cent. What Paul Keating described as “the big end of town” developed a particular taste for Lamborghinis, with sales up 211 per cent for the year. Maserati, McLaren, Ferrari and Aston Martin all enjoyed increased sales.

The rest of us kept buying SUVs in record numbers, with sales up 15.9 per cent. Even sales of luxury SUVs rose, with Porsche sales rising thanks to its Macan SUV.

Bad publicity didn’t seem to dent VW sales, which went up by nearly 10 per cent over 2014. Stable mates Audi and Skoda also had increased sales.

The rise-and-rise of Hyundai continued, with sales up 1.9 per cent. That’s just 1,000 sales short of knocking Holden off third place. The Hyundai i30 was once again Hyundai’s stand-out performer, holding down 4th spot as the top selling model.

Business sales were particularly strong, with sales up 4.9 per cent compared to private buyers, which grew by 3.7 per cent.

It wasn’t all good news across the nation, however. Bucking the national trend, sales in WA dropped almost 7.9 per cent. That was in marked contrast to Tasmania. Apple Islanders were in a buoyant mood, with sales growth leading the nation at 12 per cent. Sales growth in NSW was 6.9 per cent – almost double the national average of 3.7 per cent.

In marked contrast to the general good times for carmakers, 2015 was the year that sales hit the Great Wall with a loud thud for Chinese vehicles. They were down a remarkable 44 per cent.

But it’s not just the Chinese makers feeling the pinch. Closer to home Holden and Ford sales also slumped, with Ford recording its worst result in 49 years, and Holden its worst in 22 years. Just a few years ago the thought of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan outselling that family staple, the Ford Falcon, would be unimaginable. It happened in 2015.

It’s a sign of the diversity of Australia’s car market that sales of the top-selling model, the Toyota Corolla, represented just 3.6 per cent of the market.

With Australia’s real estate market now slowing, or even going into reverse, it remains to be seen whether 2015’s stellar new car sales can continue into 2016.

Top 10 brands: full year 2015

Car Sales
up 1.3%
up 13.2%
down 2.9%
up 1.9%
up 4.5%
down 11.6%
up 0.05%
up 9.9%
up 7.6%
up 21.5%

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