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July 2020 New Car Sales Review - Part 1

While the impact of lockdown measures in Melbourne was only partly felt throughout July, there was a marked improvement in buying sentiment across the rest of the nation. The new car industry showed some signs of life, and that comes despite stock shortages that ultimately weighed on overall results.

Total new car sales

July’s new car sales fell 12.8% year-on-year, with the total number of vehicles sold coming in at 72,505.

Although in relative terms that was a worse result than the month prior, and also the worst July result in 18 years, the strength of the result needs to be taken into consideration alongside the impediments to demand at the moment. This spans not only from a health and driver behaviour perspective amid the current COVID pandemic, but also from an economic perspective too.

Nonetheless, in absolute terms, the result was the fourth best month of 2020. Year-to-date new car sales are now 19.2% lower than the first seven months of 2019. In total, 514,920 vehicles have been sold since the start of the year.

As one might have expected, Victoria felt the brunt of the impact, with sales down 27.8% versus the prior corresponding period. The ACT, one of the sole bright spots of the industry this year, continues to perform well, with July sales jumping 30.6%.



New car sales by segment

For the first time in the Australian market, SUV sales bounced above the 50% threshold as motorists continue to flock to the format. Passenger cars have seen their share of the market decrease yet again, with commercial vehicles closing in at a rate of knots. With the instant tax write-off maintained til the end of the year, it wouldn’t surprise us if we manage to see commercial vehicles (light and heavy) surpass passenger vehicles in one of the coming months.

The broader electric vehicle category surged 104.8%, with 6,935 units sold last month. A large driver of this has been the hybrid category, where sales totalled 6,665 units, as opposed to fully electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids, which have yet to make any meaningful inroads into the market. In the case of fully electric vehicles, sales actually dived 40.3%, albeit from a low base.


Stay tuned for Part 2 of our review into new car sales for July 2020, covering vehicle makes and models.

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