Australian new car sales hit a record high last year

Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Led by a sharp drop in Queensland, Australian new car sales fell modestly in December.

According to the ABS, new car sales fell by 0.5% to 97,338 in December, leaving the annual increase at 2.2%.

In seasonally adjusted terms, sales fell by 5.3% in Queensland, outpacing a decline of 4.9% in the ACT.

Sales increased in all other states and territories with Tasmania, the Northern Territory and South Australia recording the strongest gains at 6.3%, 3.1% and 3.6% respectively.

Sales in New South Wales and Victoria, the largest car markets in the country due to their population size, rose by 0.6% and 0.4% respectively.

From a year earlier sales increased in Tasmania (16.7%), South Australia (9.6%), New South Wales (6.5%), Victoria (3.5%) and the ACT (2.4%) but fell in Queensland (-5.4%), Western Australia (-3.1%) and the Northern Territory (15.4%).

By category, sales of passenger vehicles climbed 2.7% over the month, offsetting declines of 1% and 6.2% for four-wheeled drives, referred to as SUVs by the ABS, and “other” vehicles.

Year-on-year sales of SUVs rose by 13.4% to 35,143, offsetting falls of 2.0% and 5.7% for passenger (42,998) and other vehicles (19,197).

As the chart below reveals, courtesy of data from the ABS, despite the weakness in December, over 2015 new motor vehicle sales rose to 1,154,696, the highest level on record.

The light blue line representing SUV sales was clearly responsible for the record-breaking year.

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