Car dealerships’ market confidence falls by 50% in less than two years

author-avatar By on February 14,2020
Car dealerships’ market confidence falls by 50% in less than two years

Photo by Jannis Lucas on Unsplash

Car dealerships are finding market conditions tougher than ever, with their confidence in the market halving since 2018.

That’s according to a survey conducted by Cox Automotive Group, in conjunction with the Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA).

The half-yearly survey seeks to understand dealer perceptions of the current retail automotive market, with anything over 50 on an indexed scale of 0-100 deemed a positive outlook.

It found dealers’ market outlook fell to 18, down from 26 a year ago and from 36 in late 2018.

Dealers also hold a dim view for the future, with the next six months’ outlook index down to 20 from 41 in late 2018.

The news comes after it was reported new car sales took a nosedive in 2019 and again in January 2020.

Cox Director of Marketing and Communications Matt McAuley said strong pressure to lower prices, increased difficulty in obtaining credit, and falling profitability of dealership finance and insurance were the main drivers of falling confidence.

“It is easy to see why they (dealerships) have a poor view of both the last six months and the next six months given the numerous factors affecting their businesses,” Mr McAuley said.

The survey found the biggest driver of dealers’ low confidence was market conditions, with 81% ranking it their number one factor, compared to 51% just over a year ago.

Credit availability was also a big factor, moving from seventh spot in 2018 to fourth spot in the most recent results.

The survey was first conducted in the third quarter of 2018, and 2019’s fourth quarter survey results were based on 84 dealership respondents.

Looking for a fixed loan for a new car? The table below contains a handful of low-rate car loans.

Ad rate
Comp rate*
5.45% 5.80% $572 More details
from 6.99% from 8.05% from $594 More details

Data accurate as at 17 March 2020. Rates based on a loan of $30,000 for a five-year loan term. Products sorted by advertised rate, then by company name (A-Z). View disclaimer.

Used car sales outlook better than new cars

Despite the dim outlook on new car sales, dealers held more positive views for their used car departments.

The used car sales environment has held firm with an indexed score of 44, which is in stark contrast to the new car sales environment score of 10,” Mr McAuley said.

Dealers also reported running costs of a dealership remaining steady, and fixed operations departments (parts and services) performing well, with most dealers rating those performances as ‘fair’ and ‘good’.


The entire market was not considered in selecting the above products. Rather, a cut-down portion of the market has been considered which includes retail products from at least the big four banks, the top 10 customer-owned institutions and Australia’s larger non-banks:

  • The big four banks are: ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac
  • The top 10 customer-owned Institutions are the ten largest mutual banks, credit unions and building societies in Australia, ranked by assets under management in November 2019. They are (in descending order): Credit Union Australia, Newcastle Permanent, Heritage Bank, Peoples’ Choice Credit Union, Teachers Mutual Bank, Greater Bank, IMB Bank, Beyond Bank, Bank Australia and P&N Bank.
  • The larger non-bank lenders are those who (in 2019) has more than $9 billion in Australian funded loans and advances. These groups are: Resimac, Pepper, Liberty and Firstmac.

Some providers' products may not be available in all states.

In the interests of full disclosure, and are part of the Firstmac Group. To read about how manages potential conflicts of interest, along with how we get paid, please click through onto the web site links.

*The Comparison rate is based on a $30,000 loan over 5 years. Warning: this comparison rate is true only for this example and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate.

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Harrison joined Savings in 2020. He is a journalist with more than four years of experience, with previous stints at News Corp and financial comparison site Canstar. With a keen interest in personal finance, Harrison is passionate about helping consumers make more informed financial decisions.


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