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Australian car sales: thin blue line keeps car makers out of the red

The Advertiser 2019-07-08 06:19:00

Wary buyers didn’t hit the accelerator as hard as the car game hoped they might in June.

Strong end of financial year deals and a status quo election result couldn’t tempt motorists into matching record sales in recent years.

Sales were down by 9.6 per cent (nearly 12,500 cars) in last month compared to June 2018 and 8.4 per cent (more than 51,000 cars) for the year to date. Here’s what was hot and what was not.

HOT

Police cars


If you want to shift metal in uncertain times, do a deal with the boys in blue. Highway patrol fleets helped Chrysler finish 250 per cent up for the month (and 20 per cent for the year to date) as the V8-powered 300 hits the roads in NSW Police livery.

BMW’s 5 Series is also doing well on the back of police fleet deals (up 11.6 per cent for June 2019 and 43.8 per cent for the year to date), while Kia’s Stinger Sports sedan also travelled well with a 6.4 per cent increase compared to the same month last year.

MG

British badges on affordable Chinese cars helped MG sell more than 1000 cars in a month for the first time in its modern renaissance. The MG ZS compact SUV and MG3 hatchback split the spoils relatively evenly, attracting about 480 customers each. Lexus, Renault and Jeep sold fewer cars than MG last month, a result that will see questions asked in Tokyo, Paris and Detroit.

Priced from $15,990 drive-away in auto form, the MG3 is one of Australia’s cheapest cars. We’d love to tell you more about it, but the brand has been hesitant to provide demonstrators for the media to review.

Volvo

The Swedish aren’t cross with Volvo’s performance in Australia. Sales of most luxury cars are flat or falling yet Volvo continues to impress with strong growth. Bolstered by impressive SUVs, Scandanavia’s answer to BMW is up by 26.4 per cent for the year to date and 23.6 per cent for the month.

NOT

Audi

It’s a different story at Audi, where sales near-halved between June 2018 and the last month, dropping by almost one-third for the year to date. Homologation issues in Europe for cleaner petrol and diesel models have starved the brand of supply for existing models and delayed the introduction of others. The next six months should be stronger, with production expected to ramp up and updated variants of its most popular models to appear.

Sports cars

Fast cars are slow sellers at the moment, declining by nearly 30 per cent this year.

The Audi R8, BMW i8, Honda NSX and Mercedes SL recorded zero sales and slim figures for the year overall. But there’s light on the horizon with Hyundai’s new Veloster set to pump up numbers in the near future, and Porsche’s new 911 is doing well at the top end of town.

Toyota Prius

The car that put hybrid tech on the map has fallen off the radar in Australia. Only 57 people bought a Prius last month — and that includes the standard Prius hatch, plus its smaller Prius C sibling and the van-like Prius V. Hybrid customers at Toyota are gravitating toward the Corolla, RAV4 and Camry, and we hear that the Yaris will also be available in electric form. Sales of the Prius hatch are down by nearly 26 per cent for the year to date and 70 per cent compared to June last year.

Originally published as Surprise buyer boosting new car sales