Australian new car sales fall yet again

Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Australian new car sales fell for the fourth time in five months in August with the ABS reporting a decline of 1.6%.

The annual pace of sales slowed to 2.1% from 3.5% in July, led by a 2.4% decline in passenger cars and 4.3% drop for “other” vehicles.

While weakness was evident in two of the three survey categories, continuing a well-established trend seen in recent years, sales of four-wheel drives (4WD), categorised as sports utility vehicles (SUV) by the ABS, jumped a further 0.8% to 34,320. Not only did the increase leave annual sales up 17.6%, the monthly figure was the highest level on record.

The chart below reveals the recent trend in Australian new motor vehicles sales. In rolling annual terms, the gap between passenger vehicle and SUV sales is narrowing fast. Clearly Australians are trading up when it comes to vehicle size.

Across the country, sales fell in all states and territories bar Tasmania. South Australia, home to the highest unemployment rate in Australia, suffered the largest percentage decline at 6.03%. Sales in New South Wales slipped 0.18% while those in Victoria slid by a larger 3.27%. Elsewhere the declines ranged from 0.42% in Western Australia to 2.46% in the Northern Territory. Tasmania was the exception, recording a lift of 3.20%.

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