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Tony O'Kane | Dec 3, 2009

AS IF ANY PROOF was needed that the Australian new car market - and economy - has held up in defiance of the global financial crisis, November new car sales are up 20 percent against the same period last year.

While the world slowly drags itself out of recession, and mops up after the sub-prime stupidity and fiscal irresponsibility that preceded it, Australia has managed to hang onto positive growth, if somewhat slowed.

The ‘canary in the cage’ for the economy, new car sales (which commonly collapse first and recover last), reflect the charmed run of the Australian economy through the GFC, and its charmed run for most of the past two decades.

Certainly, as the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has commented, the Federal Government’s stimulus package, in particular the 50 percent tax rebate for small business vehicle (and equipment) purchases, has put a significant floor under 2009 sales.

The growth in SUV and light commercial vehicle sales for November, up an astonishing 44 percent and 38.9 percent respectively, would indicate that businesses are rushing showrooms to take advantage of the government tax incentives before they come to an end on December 31.

Of course, as with any market distortion (government-driven or otherwise), what happens post-December 31 is anyone’s guess.

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The government and the industry will be hoping that recovering growth in the wider economy will cushion the inevitable decline in business vehicle sales once the incentive is withdrawn.

VFACTS data for November shows that 85,833 passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles were sold in November 2009 – an increase of 19.9 percent (or 14,216 vehicles) compared to November 2008.

“The exceptional November figures could not have been achieved without the Federal Government’s small business tax break,” FCAI Chief Executive Andrew McKellar said.

“Business sales increased an incredible 35.4 percent during the month; spurred on by the substantial incentives available until the end of the year,” he said.

Passenger car sales are also up in November, recording a 9.4 percent increase against the gloom of November 2008.

Year-to-date (YTD) 848,620 new vehicles have been sold, down 9.3 percent compared to the same YTD period in 2008.

As TMR predicted in early October, the recovering market is likely to see a full-year result in new vehicle sales just 10 percent down on 2008 – or 910,000 sales plus.

A rush into showrooms before December 31 by small business ABN holders could see a record-breaking December and that full-year result considerably higher.

These are, as John Lennon observed, “strange days indeed”.

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So, who’s the king of the castle in vehicle sales so far in 2009? Following are the top 20 selling vehicles in the Australian new vehicle market year-to-date (YTD) from across all segments (and how they are travelling compared to last year’s YTD sales).

  1. Holden Commodore: 3956 sales (November) down 12.3% YTD
  2. Toyota Corolla 3309 sales down 18.8% YTD
  3. Ford Falcon 2863 sales down 3.7% YTD
  4. Mazda3 2548 sales up 4.1% YTD
  5. Toyota HiLux 4x4 2519 sales down 12.7% YTD
  6. Holden Cruze 2274 sales -
  7. Mitsubishi Lancer 2023 sales up 5.4% YTD
  8. Toyota Camry 2003 sales down 12.3% YTD
  9. Hyundai i30 1998 sales up 110% YTD
  10. Toyota Yaris 1725 sales down 25% YTD
  11. Toyota HiLux 4x2 1711 sales down 15.2% YTD
  12. Toyota Prado 1536 sales down 16.2% YTD
  13. Falcon Ute 1473 sales down 8.0% YTD
  14. Nissan Navara 4x4 1410 sales up 0,5% YTD
  15. Holden Commodore Ute 1336 sales down 9.1% YTD
  16. Toyota Aurion 1315 sales down 29.3% YTD
  17. Hyundai Getz 1304 sales up 19.0% YTD
  18. Toyota Kluger 1301 sales down 6.6% YTD
  19. Holden Captiva 1234 sales up 12.2% YTD
  20. Mazda2 1184 sales down 15.4% YTD

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For those with more than a passing interest, you will notice that Yaris has re-taken top spot in the light car segment, winning it back from Hyundai’s Getz.

You will also notice that the Territory is absent from the top 20, with 1016 sales in November.

And in case you’re wondering where the Golf sits, it chalked up 1171 sales for the month, and is up 1.3% YTD. It’s holding down 22nd spot, nudged out of 21st by Toyota’s Rav4 with 1175 sales for November, but down 11.5% YTD.

So there we have the latest state of play. Watch this spot one month from now.

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