During 2020, global car sales fell by 14 per cent according to Statista. The United States saw a slump – down some 15.83 per cent. One of the most resilient markets to recover from the fall though was right here in Australia.
It was here at home that we saw a substantial 33 per cent increase in new car sales from 2020 to 2021, according to new research by Savvy.
That surge came despite COVID-19 outbreaks and slow vaccination rates plunging NSW and Victoria into lockdown from July to October.
The Surge down under
According to the Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, passenger vehicle sales rose by 2,581 (17.5 per cent) in August 2021, compared to the same time last year. SUV sales surged by 8,603 sales (26.6 per cent).
Go back to July of 2020, when the market was hit hard by COVID, and it was the Toyota RAV4 stealing away top spot from the HiLux, despite a 19.2 per cent downturn.
Fast forward to today, and while COVID is a known quantity, Australia is not immune to the recent semiconductor shortage; and yet the latter seems to not be having an impact, with dealers seeing strong demand despite long wait times.
“Dealers have no trouble selling cars and people are prepared to wait months for them – sometimes up to a year at this point,” Savvy managing director Bill Tsouvalas said.
“A raft of government stimulus measures such as weekly $750 disaster payments for workers in affected areas, guaranteed loans for businesses, and instant asset write-offs worth up to $30,000 has meant that we have emerged from the pandemic relatively unscathed, from an economic perspective.”
“Coupled with ultra-competitive car loan rates, 0.1 per cent being the official cash rate, there’s really never been a better time to buy a car,” Tsouvalas added.
SUVs a substantial segment – not so much electric
Savvy’s research turned up something else too, although we’re pretty sure most people knew this one; Australians can’t get enough of sports utility vehicles – with SUVs outselling all other passenger segments by a factor of four to one.
Electric or hybrid vehicles barely make a mark on Australian new car sales league tables though.
“The history of Australia is a ‘tyranny of distance’ and that it also spills over into electric car infrastructure,” Tsouvalas said.
“EV charging stations are few and far between once motorists leave the suburbs and cities – and 800km between Melbourne and Sydney is a road too far, especially when most electric cars on the market tap out at around 300km.”
As more EVs enter the Australian market, prices will come down. This will require further incentives and infrastructure investment from the government or private sector (with MG committing to the placement of 3,000 EV chargers across Australia).