Australian motor vehicle sales dipped slightly in August as the effects of high fuel prices and rising interest rates combined to discourage some buyers from car showrooms.
Official VFACTS figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) show that the market fell 5.2 per cent on last August and year-to-date sales are now down 3.4 per cent on the same period of 2005.
“After four years of record growth the FCAI had been forecasting a slight decline of total sales in 2006 and the downturn is only a little greater than our initial prediction,” said the FCAI’s Chief Executive, Peter Sturrock.
On present trends the industry will sell about 970,000 vehicles by year’s end compared with the FCAI’s forecast at the beginning of the year of 980,000 and a record 988,269 in 2005.
Peter Sturrock said the August results were notable for the strong debuts of two new locally manufactured models.
“The enthusiastic reception for the Holden Commodore and Toyota Camry is a great encouragement to the local automotive industry,” said Mr Sturrock.
Within the overall market, various segments are showing conflicting trends.
Sales of the smallest cars in the market continued to grow in August; the Light car segment registering a 31.4 per cent rise over the same month in 2005 but the Small car segment was down slightly (1.3 per cent).
“As the interest rate rises take effect it is not only the fuel economy of a vehicle that buyers are considering but also the monthly repayment that would be required,” said Peter Sturrock.
The Light Truck market was down last month by 8.9 per cent but within that the Pick-up/Cab-Chassis 4×4 segment rose by 7.0 per cent.
The Sports Utility Vehicle market fell by 10.8 per cent in August and year-to-date is now down 7.4 per cent.
“Fuel economy is clearly the issue affecting SUV sales and it is notable that within that market the sales of Small SUVs are less affected,” said Peter Sturrock.
Toyota was Australia’s bestselling vehicle brand in August with a 22.8 per cent share of the market, ahead of Holden (14.5 per cent) and Ford (12.6 per cent).