After recording the largest ever monthly decline in April at 48.5%, May's data represents another blow to the industry, down 35.3% on new car sales.

In total, 59,894 cars were sold in May 2020, down from 92,561 in May 2019.

This represents the largest drop in May sales figures since VFACTS statistics began recording in 1991.

FCAI chief Tony Weber said the automotive market has been under pressure for some time.

“May 2020 is the 26th consecutive month of negative growth for the market, and the causative factors are well documented - droughts, floods, bushfires, tight lending conditions, unfavourable exchange rates, and political uncertainty," he said.

“Now, we add to that the devastating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past three months. While COVID-19 is primarily a health crisis, it has brought about an economic crisis as well.

"These are difficult times for the global and domestic economy, and this of course has repercussions for the local sales sector, including the automotive industry."

However, despite the overall decline, electric and luxury cars are seeing their time in the sun.

For example, in the VFACTS data, which FCAI reports on, in all sectors in May 2020, 221 electric vehicles were sold, compared to 172 in May 2019 - a 22% increase.

Luxury SUVs are also increasing their market share, with 'luxury' being counted as the upper brackets for the vehicle segment.

While overall sales volumes were down, luxury SUV sales increased market share to 7.9% of total sales, up from 6.5% in May 2019.

This was aided in large part by the medium SUV segment, which houses the Porsche Macan, Volvo XC60, Audi Q5 and other similar vehicles.

In the market for a new car? The table below features green car loans with some of the lowest fixed interest rates for fuel-efficient vehicles on the market.

Update resultsUpdate
LenderCar LoanInterest Rate Comparison Rate* Monthly Repayment Interest Type Vehicle Type Maximum Vehicle Age Ongoing Fee Upfront Fee Total Repayment Early Repayment Instant Approval Online Application TagsFeaturesLinkCompare
6.09% p.a.
7.21% p.a.
1 year
  • Discounted rate on qualifying electric cars
  • Up to 7 yrs loan term
  • Redraw available up to $5,000/day
5.99% p.a.
7.20% p.a.
New, Used
7 years
5.99% p.a.
5.99% p.a.
No Max
6.19% p.a.
6.54% p.a.
No Max
6.25% p.a.
6.52% p.a.
New, Used
3 years
Important Information and Comparison Rate Warning

All products with a link to a product provider’s website have a commercial marketing relationship between us and these providers. These products may appear prominently and first within the search tables regardless of their attributes and may include products marked as promoted, featured or sponsored. The link to a product provider’s website will allow you to get more information or apply for the product. By de-selecting “Show online partners only” additional non-commercialised products may be displayed and re-sorted at the top of the table. For more information on how we’ve selected these “Sponsored”, “Featured” and “Promoted” products, the products we compare, how we make money, and other important information about our service, please click here.

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 . View disclaimer.

Restrictions ease in time for EOFY sales

COVID-19 restrictions are starting to ease across many states, and FCAI said last week that many dealerships are open for both sales and service.

Today, Mr Weber said that dealers have recorded an uptick in floor traffic through dealerships.

“Anecdotally, we may be beginning to see some ‘green shoots’ in the marketplace," he said.

“Additionally, we are hearing from some brands that website traffic is on the rise – a sure sign of increased purchasing interest.

“And finally, brand End of Financial Year campaigns have started, meaning the opportunity to snare a bargain has increased significantly.

“So if you are in the market for a new vehicle, now’s the time to visit your local dealer.”

Experts are saying it's reasonable to negotiate up to 15% off the price of a new car.

FCAI is also urging small businesses to look at the increased asset write-off scheme and to get in before 30 June.

“The instant asset write off initiative has real potential to help stimulate the market, and we would like to see it extended in its current form beyond 30th June 2020,” FCAI chief Mr Weber said.

Car subscriptions muscle in

Rather than own a car, more people are flocking to car subscription services as a more permanent solution.

Carbar commissioned a survey and found 80% of car subscribers intend to keep their car for more than a year, while 30% said they'll hold onto it indefinitely.

The service's co-founder and chief Des Hang said the car subscription market is young but growing rapidly.

“Car subscriptions have only been in Australia for 18 months," he said.

"We forecast there are several thousand Australians subscribing to a car, meaning that now is the perfect time to gather meaningful data on how this new business model has affected access to a vehicle.

“What this study tells us is that car subscriptions are emerging as a genuine replacement to car ownership in Australia.

"They look to be overtaking loans and leases as a preferred means of car access.

"Consumers however, are still willing to pay cash to own their car.”

A car subscription service charges a weekly fee to access a car, and this fee includes registration, maintenance, insurance and roadside assistance. 

For example, at the time of writing, Carbar has a 2019 red Mazda 3 for $189 per week with a $1,764 upfront fee.

RACQ also releases an annual report into total car expenses, which calculates for depreciation, fuel, loan servicing, tyres and maintenance, and found a Mazda 3 G20 Pure 2.0L hatch comes out at about $167 per week.

Carbar calculates that owning this vehicle would cost $253.90, however, and two thirds of the survey respondents who have their primary vehicle leased or loaned found a subscription to be similar in expense or more affordable.