Consumers ‘cautious’: March new car sales slip

Dominic Beattie By on April 3, 2019
empty carpark

Amid an increasingly uncertain economic climate, Australian sales of new vehicles in March were down 7.1% on last year, according to the latest figures.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) reported there were 99,442 new vehicle sales last month, which is 7,546 less than the number sold in March 2018.

It’s also the lowest number of sales for March since 2014.

Total sales over the year to date are 268,538 – down 7.9% on what it was at the same point last year.

Leading this slide is new passenger vehicle sales, which are down 17.8% with only 84,200 sold over January to March.

Chief executive of the FCAI Tony Weber said current economic conditions have played a part.

“We are seeing a cautious consumer approach at the moment, and this is not surprising given the number of economic headwinds in the Australian market,” Weber said.

Stagnant wage growth, falling house prices and slowing GDP growth are some of the issues that could be playing on the minds of the average Australian consumer.

Some, such as the RBA, have argued falling house prices have made Australian homeowners less willing buy new cars since some purchase them by borrowing against the value of their home.

But March new vehicle sales were up 14% on February’s 87,102 sales, although there are more selling days in March than February.

Top selling cars: Commercial vehicles and SUVs dominate

While passenger vehicle sales have fallen off significantly, March sales of SUVs and light commercial vehicles (LCVs) only suffered slight year-on-year dips of 3.5% and 0.4% respectively.

Only three passenger vehicles made the top 10 sellers list over the month, while the top three models were all utes (LCVs).

Top 10 selling vehicle models in March

RankModelCategoryMarch 2019 sales
1.Toyota Hi-LuxLCV4,527
2.Ford RangerLCV3,721
3.Mitsubishi TritonLCV2,666
4.Mazda 3Passenger2,642
5.Toyota CorollaPassenger2,499
6.Mazda CX-5SUV2,414
7.Hyundai i30Passenger2,402
8.Toyota LandcruiserSUV2,307
9.Mitsubishi ASXSUV2,236
10.Mitsubishi OutlanderSUV2,067


The Mitsubishi Outlander rounded out the top 10 sellers over the month with a remarkable 44.2% growth in sales compared to its March sales in 2018.

Around the states and territories, steep falls in March new vehicle sales were felt in Victoria (-11.5%), Northern Territory (-9.7%) and New South Wales (-8.4%), while there were higher March sales in South Australia (+9.4%) and Tasmania (+6.2%).

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Photo by Justin Clark on Unsplash

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Dominic Beattie
Dominic Beattie is’s Content Manager. He has been writing and editing articles on finance, business and economics since 2015, having previously worked as a Senior Journalist at financial research firm Canstar before helping to relaunch in November 2018. Dominic aspires to help everyday Australians discover simple and effective ways to comfortably manage their finances and save money, without sacrificing their joie de vivre.


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