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September 2021 New Car Sales Review - Part 1

The calls are growing louder and louder, new car buyers must place their orders as soon as possible if they want any prospect of securing their next car before the holiday season arrives.

While the headline figures might suggest the market remains in a healthy place, dig a little deeper and there are signs the stock shortages hampering a number of auto-makers are beginning to bite. Nonetheless, in the face of supply constraints due to semiconductor shortages, and ongoing lockdowns, the market does have a lot of factors holding it back at the moment, and global car markets are also facing tricky periods as well.

Total new car sales

According to the Federal Chamber of Automotive industries, there were 83,312 vehicles reported as sold throughout September. The result is a 20.8% increase on the prior corresponding month last year, while also representing the 11th consecutive gain for sales across the new car market. Year-to-date, sales now stand at 816,140, which is 27% higher than the same period in 2020.

Turning the page back, however, and the results must be put into context. Last month’s result is the weakest performance for September in any given year since the GFC took place more than a decade ago. Arguably a better indication, if we look at the five-year average prior to the pandemic, last month’s result is lower by 17% against that benchmark.

Unsurprisingly, the lockdown in New South Wales weighed on the overall picture, with sales down 8% to 23,965 units, however, that is still the biggest market in the country. Victoria’s sales fared incredibly well against those a year prior, albeit last year’s lockdown sapped confidence far more than ever imaginable, at least compared with the recent period where new car dealers have adapted their business models.

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New car sales by segment

Compared with the dire performance recorded in September last year, passenger vehicle sales are still struggling it would seem, with the sales recovery muted at just 5% year-on-year growth. Faring little better, passenger vehicle sales are only up 7% year-to-date. With 18,531 units reported as sold that meant passenger vehicles trailed light commercial vehicles last month, which totalled 20,035 sales.

In terms of individual segments, utes remain an ever-present force at the top of the sales charts, with 4x4 units in particular a dominant segment. There were 14,476 4x4 utes sold last month, more than any other individual segment. The next-best category is mid-sized SUVs with 14,031 units sold, equivalent to 16.8% market share, and then large SUVs and small SUVs at 13.4% and 12.9% market share respectively.

Rounding things out, hybrid sales leapt more than 60% in September to reach 6,959, indicating the segment is well and truly on the up.


Stay tuned for Part 2 of our review into new car sales for September 2021, covering vehicle makes and models.

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