New vehicle sales figures for the month of August 2020 have been released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) through the national VFACTS report.

The figures reveal a continuing downturn in the automotive industry. A total of 60,986 sales were reported during the month, down 28.8 per cent on August 2019 when 85,633 sales were recorded.

On a year to date basis, VFACTS reported 575,906 sales for the eight months ending 31st August 2020, down 20.4 per cent on the same period in 2019 when 723,283 sales were reported.

The automotive industry figures were released one day after the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced a seven per cent drop in Gross Domestic Product for the June quarter – the largest drop ever recorded in a single quarter.

On a state-by-state basis, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the market is clear. The best performing state was the Australian Capital Territory with 1,312 sales, up 0.4 per cent on August 2019. New South Wales, Australia’s largest market, recorded 23,431 sales for the month, down 16.3 per cent on August 2019.

Victoria, which is currently under Stage 4 Restrictions, recorded a 65.9 per cent downturn with 8,347 sales for the month.

Tony Weber, chief executive of the FCAI, said that while the overall industry was showing some response to stimulus packages, the story for Victoria was less than promising.

“The industry has moved swiftly to implement robust COVIDSafe protocols to ensure the health and wellbeing of employees and customers is preserved.

“However, it is particularly difficult for our members and their Victorian dealer networks under the current Stage 4 Restrictions, and this is reflected in the reduced sales figures.

“While we have the utmost respect for essential health priorities, the automotive industry supports the re-opening of our economy under appropriate COVIDSafe protocols,” Mr Weber said.

“We’ve seen 29 consecutive months of diminishing sales in this industry, and there’s no doubt our members are feeling the pinch. The move to commence the reopening of industry and markets, especially in Victoria, needs to start as soon as possible.”

Toyota was the top selling brand for the month, with 12,449 sales, followed by Mazda with 6,921 sales, Hyundai with 4,525 sales, Kia with 4,521 sales, and Mitsubishi with 4,308 sales.

There were 14,758 Passenger Vehicle sales (24.2 per cent market share), 32,378 SUV sales (53.1 per cent market share), and 11,234 Light Commercial sales (18.4 per cent market share) during the month.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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