After what was a dismal slump in new car sales during April, expectations were still firmly in check for May amid the ongoing impact of COVID-19.
Although consumer sentiment has improved marginally across many sectors, and in fact new car buying interest has certainly ramped up, it is still proving to be a challenging market to say the least. That’s because prospective new car buyers have been keeping their wallets shut and lending activity has hindered what interest there has been.
Nonetheless, a gradual sign of recovery is better than no sign at all.
Total new car sales
New car sales for May fell 35.3% to 59,894 units. According to the FCAI, “May 2020 had 25.8 selling days, compared to May 2019 with 26.80, and this resulted in a decrease of 1,132.3 vehicle sales per day”.
On a year-to-date basis, new car sales are down by 23.9% compared with the opening five months of last year. The result for May was a significant improvement over April, however, it marks the 26th consecutive period of monthly declines.
The best-performing regions for new car sales were the ACT, down just 5.2%, and Western Australia, with a significant decline of 26.4% throughout May. The worst-performing state, however, was Tasmania, where new car registrations nosedived 51.7% to just 844 units.
New car sales by segment
In terms of segment activity, the passenger vehicle market is down by 15,054 vehicle sales (-52.1%) compared with May 2019; the SUV market is lower by 12,285 car sales
(-30%); the light commercial market has deteriorated by 4,387 vehicle sales (-22.9%); and the heavy commercial vehicle market is down by 941 vehicle sales (-26.5%) compared with a year ago.
Importantly, the medium SUV class leapt to the top of the charts courtesy of its 11,477 sales, overtaking the popular 4x4 ute segment, where 10,979 sales were recorded during May.
On a year-over-year basis, electric and plug-in hybrid sales jumped 28% last month.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our review into new car sales for May 2020, covering vehicle makes and models.