There was finally some momentum at hand in the new car market, with February reversing the trend of recent months and delivering positive sales growth across the month.
With that said, the industry certainly isn’t out of the blocks by any stretch of imagination, with supply concerns still a major headwind. In fact, this is something that Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries CEO Tony Weber touched on.
Mr Weber reflected on the month, saying: “Global supply chains for microprocessor units are still some distance from full recovery. The consumer demand for new cars in Australia remains strong and manufacturers are continuing to work hard to get cars into the hands of motorists”. So while there are good signs in terms of fundamentals, showrooms remain at the mercy of component delays, and that is unlikely to change for some time yet.
Total new car sales
Last month there were 85,340 new cars registered as sold, which is a 1.6% improvement on the prior corresponding month from last year. To ensure both periods are like for like, it is worth noting that there were 24 selling days in both cases. As a result, the year-on-year improvement equated to an extra 56.8 vehicles selling per day.
On a year-to-date basis, February’s improvement doesn’t quite offset the poor start to the year in January. In total, new car sales are at 161,203 units, which is around 1.5% lower versus the first two months of 2021.
While Victoria and Queensland both recorded a modest uptick in sales in February - up 5.5% and 3.8% respectively - it was a different story for New South Wales, where sales slumped 3.5%. On the other hand, South Australia and Tasmania both enjoyed stellar results, with sales increasing 8.9% and 16.6% respectively. That was enough to offset a drop in sales across Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and the ACT.
New car sales by segment
Sales of passenger vehicles continue to face an uphill battle, with the segment now well and truly out of favour compared with the likes of SUVs and light commercial vehicles. Both of those categories continue to chart new heights, buoyed by the popularity of the 4x4 category.
Breaking down the sub-categories, these were the top segments by market share: 4×4 Utes (19.4%); Medium SUVs (18.6%); Small SUVs: (14.4%); Large SUVs: (12.1%); and Small Cars: (8.0%).
Private buyers were responsible for the growth in sales across the market last month, with that sub-category seeing sales rise by 7.9%. Neither business fleets, rental fleets, nor government fleets recorded sales growth compared with February, 2021.
Meanwhile, hybrid sales continue to pick up the pace, up 62.3% versus a year ago to reach 8,143 units. Although that still lags petrol, 43,644 units, and diesel, 29,939 units, the signs are encouraging. EV sales are also rising as well, albeit these are still coming off a very low base.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our review into new car sales for February 2022, covering vehicle makes and models.