Vehicle sales hit rock bottom a year ago, but there’s been a dramatic turnaround, with some brands driving an unprecedented boom.
Booming sales of utes and offroaders drove the new-car market to record levels in April, according to the latest figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.
Sales were up by a staggering 130 per cent over last April, when COVID lockdowns plunged the car industry into chaos.
Work and play utes such as the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux led the way as buyers cashed in their holiday refunds for adventure vehicles to tour the Aussie outback.
The Toyota LandCruiser also clocked huge sales, as more than 92,000 vehicles found new homes, up from roughly 39,000 in April last year.
Tony Weber, the head of the FCAI, said buyer confidence was sky high and he predicted sales would improve further during the rest of this year, as overseas supply constraints ease.
The blocking of the Suez Canal and a shortage of semiconductors — a vital component in all modern cars — has led to short supplies of some cars and long waiting times for buyers.
“It is possible there is pent up market demand which may be reflected in sales figures in the second half of 2021 as solutions are found to these issues,” said Weber.
He said the boom in car sales was “a direct reflection of the performance of the broader economy in terms of consumer and business confidence”.
“This time last year we were seeing significant impacts from COVID-19 with less customer activity and inquiries to dealerships.”
Weber said the resurgence of the home tourism industry was starting to flow back into the car market through increased fleet purchases.
“It also was pleasing to see increases in sales for rental vehicles across all segments. Growth in rental fleets will be an important building block supporting the recovery of the tourism industry across the country.”
The big winner in April was the Ford Ranger dual-cab ute, which knocked the Toyota HiLux off its perch to be the highest selling vehicle in the country.
Ford sold 5021 Rangers last month, a jump of 226 per cent on April 2020.
Toyota again dominated the top 10, though. Its RAV4 mid-sized SUV was the second best selling vehicle in the country with 4506 registrations followed by the HiLux (4222) and LandCruiser (3177).
The LandCruiser has been in extraordinary demand from customers, who are rushing to buy the last of the remaining V8-powered machines before a new V6 model replaces it later this year.
The crush of buyers competing for limited LandCruiser stock has led to some profiteers selling their just purchased vehicles online with giant mark-ups.
Mitsubishi’s Triton (2458) and the Isuzu D-Max (1999) utes also had a strong month, while the Mazda CX-5 (2353) and Mitsubishi ASX (2058) soared as Aussies shun conventional hatchbacks and sedans in favour of SUVs.
The Toyota Corolla (2073) and Hyundai i30 (2005) were the only hatchbacks to make the top 10.
Chrysler, Citroen and Renault were the only brands to post negative results in April, which is especially damning when the market is up by such a huge margin. Citroen only sold three vehicles in April.
Almost 300 electric vehicles found homes in April, which is four times as many as April last year. This figures doesn’t include Tesla sales because the American company does not report its Australian sales.
Hybrids too continue to be in vogue with more than 7500 petrol-electric-powered machines sold in April, a jump of 170 per cent.
TOP 10 SELLING CARS IN APRIL
Ford Ranger – 5021
Toyota RAV4 – 4506
Toyota HiLux – 4222
Toyota LandCruiser – 3177
Mitsubishi Triton – 2458
Mazda CX-5 – 2353
Toyota Corolla – 2073
Mitsubishi ASX – 2028
Hyundai i30 – 2005
Isuzu D-Max – 1999
TOP 10 SELLING BRANDS IN APRIL
Toyota – 20,208
Mazda – 10,052
Mitsubishi – 7513
Ford – 7146
Hyundai – 5772
Kia – 5707
Nissan – 3500
Subaru – 3451
Volkswagen – 3123
MG – 3007