Following a bad year of car sales in 2019, new vehicle sales figures for January 2020 were off to a modest start. Just over 71,000 new cars were sold - down 10,263 from January 2019 when 81,994 cars were sold.

Tony Weber, chief executive for the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) said he wasn't surprised the figures were low.

"Given the broad range of environmental, financial, international and political issues facing Australia during January, it is no surprise to see the new vehicle market has reported a conservative start to the year," Mr Weber said. 

Sports utility vehicles made up the lion's share of new cars sold (35,393) followed by passenger vehicles (20,494) and light commercial vehicles (14,035).

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                      The comparison rates in this table are based on a loan of $30,000 and a term of 5 years unless indicated otherwise. The comparison rates for car loans and secured personal loans for the relevant amounts and terms are for secured loans unless indicated otherwise. The comparison rates for unsecured personal loans are applicable for unsecured loans only. WARNING: This comparison rate applies only to the example or examples given. Different amounts and terms will result in different comparison rates. Costs such as redraw fees or early repayment fees, and cost savings such as fee waivers, are not included in the comparison rate but may influence the cost of the loan. Comparison rates are not calculated for revolving credit products.

                      Monthly repayment figures are estimates only, exclude fees and are based on the advertised rate for the term and for the loan amount entered. Actual repayments will depend on your individual circumstances and interest rate changes. Rates correct as of April 20, 2024. View disclaimer.

                      New car winners and losers 

                      Toyota emerged as the market leader in January with over 14,000 sales and 20.6% market share.

                      The Toyota Hilux once again claimed the title of Australia's best-selling car with 2,968 sales, closely followed by the Ford Ranger (2,624). Australia's third favourite vehicle during January was the Toyota Corolla with 2,370 sales.

                      Rank Vehicle Jan 2020 Jan 2019
                      1 Toyota 14,809 15,961
                      2 Mazda 6,695 9,490
                      3 Hyundai 5,443 6,205
                      4 Mitsubishi 5,108 6,669
                      5 Kia 4,705 4,651
                      6 Ford 4,169 4,421
                      7 Nissan 3,444 3,803
                      8 Honda 3,436 4,042
                      9 Volkswagen 3,246 3,617
                      10 Holden 2,641 4,167

                      What's behind the drop in new car sales?

                      New car sales figures are often considered to be a barometer of economic health so if they're falling, it can generally be considered a sign of a weakened economy. Buying intentions for motor vehicles historically drops off when a household's spending strength is weaker, which happens when the economy isn't as strong.

                      Kristy Wells, Operations Manager at Popcar said rising living costs and increased demand for ride share services could be behind lagging car sales figures. 

                      "We certainly see that in the areas where we operate there is constant demand for car sharing services. We are seeing that the cost of living is rising, and people are more and more conscious of the financial pressures in daily life. Australians are looking for how they can be savvy and save money," Ms Wells told Savings.com.au.

                      "With rising growth of car sharing services, like Popcar, it means consumers now have an alternative to traditional car ownership and do not need to purchase a car for tens of thousands of dollars.

                      "This new trend is offering the convenience of owning a car without costs. By using a car sharing service there are no registration costs, servicing costs or car payments."