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October 2020 New Car Sales Review - Part 1

Against all the odds, the new car industry showed remarkable resilience in October, almost reversing the market’s losing streak, while coming in well ahead of expectations.

The change in momentum was best summed up by FCAI chief executive Tony Weber, who said that “after a very challenging year, we are seeing ‘green shoots’ in the Australian new vehicle market”.

Total new car sales

Last month there were a total of 81,220 vehicles reported as sold, which was down just 1.5% compared with the same month in the year prior. For context, in October 2019 there were 82,456 vehicle registrations across the market.

The result meant that it was the 31st consecutive month where new car sales were down, however, given the extent of the economic recession that has transpired over the last year, the fact that results were nearly at pre-COVID levels gives rise to great optimism.

Furthermore, the October result was also the lowest for that specific month since 2010, but the third best month thus far in 2020. Year-to-date, new car sales are lower by 18.8% versus the corresponding period in 2019, with a total of 726,111 vehicles reported as sold.

Predictably, Victoria weighed on the results given much of the state was still in lockdown across October, however, the likes of NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia all delivered strong sales growth.


New car sales by segment

For the second month in a row, light commercial buying activity was on the rise, and in fact, surpassed that of passenger vehicles. The passenger vehicle segment has been on the slide for some time, however, this result is one that illustrates the disparity across the market at the moment, and what is being driven by commercial business activity in the states that have all but eradicated COVID-19.

Keeping up the trend of recent months, electric vehicle sales more than doubled last month. Total sales jumped from 3,022 in October 2019 to 6,187 in October 2020. Hybrid cars continue to be the main driving force in this activity, with sales from that segment growing from 2,747 to 5,801. All the while pure electric sales continue to grow at a very modest pace, for the second month in a row climbing just 5%.


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

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