UH-OH: There was a dramatic fall in car sales in Australia last month

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Car sales in Australia fell heavily last month, according to industry data out today that showed plummeting demand for passenger cars and lower sales across all mainland states and territories.

At 85,551, the number of cars sold last month was 7.8 per cent lower than in July 2017.

Passenger car sales fell by 20.2 per cent compared to a year earlier, according to data from the motor industry’s statistical service, VFACTS.

SUVs, the consistent growth category in car sales over recent years, also declined by 1 per cent.

Studies have shown a strong relationship between car sales volumes and economic growth. The willingness to buy a car is an indicator of consumer confidence.

Total sales for the first seven months of 2018 were 691,073, which is 0.2 per cent below the same year-to-date result for 2017.

“Going against the general market trend in July were sales in the micro car segment (+31.8%), small SUVs (+3.4%), 4X4 pick-ups (+6.4%) and upper large SUVs (+4.1%),” VFACTS said.

“Hardest hit by the July decline was the large car segment (-56.3%), together with medium passenger cars (-31.3%), sports cars (-38.2%) and upper large category passenger cars (-46.1%).”

Tasmania, where sales were up almost 6 per cent, was the only state or territory to record an increase in vehicle sales. Sales fell 9.6% in New South Wales and were down in Victoria by 6.3 per cent, while Queensland fell 5.8 per cent. WA recorded an 8.1 per cent fall, SA was down 11.3 per cent, the ACT was down 12.2 per cent and the Northern Territory was down 18.8 per cent.

With July being the first month of the new financial year, sales may have been affected to some extent by the timing of asset purchases by businesses.

Here are the numbers in detail:


The Australian Bureau of Statistics stopped publishing data on car sales at the start of this year, so economists need to rely on motor industry data instead.

VFACTS noted that July 2018 had the same number of selling days as July 2017. There was a decrease of 277 vehicle sales per day across the month compared to last year.

There’s further information at the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

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