Tim O'Brien | Jun 4, 2009

Mazda 3, up 17.7% (VFACTS), Australia's top-selling small car.
Hero car for Honda, Accord Euro up 27.4 percent (VFACTS)

With nearly half of all respondents indicating that they intend to now delay their buying plans due to the economic uncertainty, it may be too early to be calling a turn-around in the market as some industry commentators have done.

Certainly, the May new vehicle sales results would indicate that the Federal Government's business tax break of a 50 percent rebate on the purchase of a new vehicle has put a temporary floor under the market and arrested the decline in business sales, down just 7.2 percent relative to May 2008.

Interestingly, that nearly three in ten responded that they planned to buy quite soon because "the current savings are too large to ignore" would indicate that current marketing campaigns focusing on discounted 'drive-away' deals, are hitting the mark with consumers.

However, the combined effect of the 'drive-away discount' sales, plus the Federal Government's business tax break, may have created a temporary distortion that has produced the better than expected May sales results.

2009 Cruze: Holden's new entry to the small car market
2009 Cruze: Holden's new entry to the small car market

Whether it translates to an ongoing strengthening in the market is too early to tell. The Motor Report poll indicates an underlying softness among private buyers that may take longer to turn round.

An incentive for private buyers, such as the German Government's successful ‘scrappage’ scheme for older cars, would likely ensure an ongoing recovery in the Australian new vehicle market.

As such, we agree with Suzuki Australia's call for the Federal Government to institute such a scheme for Australia.

About The Motor Report Poll:

Conducted May 6 to June 3, 2009; 611 respondents.

If you were considering a new car in 2009, has the current economic uncertainty changed your plans?
  • No, I plan to buy quite soon because the current savings are too large to ignore: 28.0%
  • No, I plan to buy in the next six to nine months because I need a new car: 24.0%
  • Yes, I now plan to keep my current car for a few more years at least: 23.0%
  • Yes, I will delay buying a car because I am trying to lower my debt position: 14.0%
  • Yes, I will delay my purchasing plans because I am uncertain of what the future holds for my employment: 12.0%