New vehicle sales in Australia softened last month, indicating the increasing pressure placed on the public's purse strings in the current economic climate.
Official VFACTS figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) show a total of 83,976 cars, trucks and buses sold in July - a drop of 2,315 vehicles (2.7%) when compared to July '07.
It's not completely doom and gloom just yet though as the the current year-to-date figures are still up 2.6% on last year's numbers - and that was an all-time record year.
FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar hit the nail on the head when he explained;
"Higher fuel prices, interest rates and the wider economic uncertainty have resulted in a slowing of people heading to showrooms."
Then there's the Federal Government's proposed increase in the luxury car tax to consider (which, should it pass the Senate, is to apply retrospectively to July 1) which McKellar blames for the whopping 33% decline in luxury car sales in July when compared to June of this year.
"It is clear that the downturn has been exacerbated by the impact of this unfair tax hike, and the industry has significant concerns that orders will continue to be affected in coming months. If this situation continues, the government will not receive the additional revenue it had projected, and there is a real risk that it will cost jobs."
Official VFACTS figures for July indicated that sales in most of the passenger car and Sports Utility Vehicle segments (SUV) were down except for light cars (up 1.0%), SUV medium (up 8.1%) and SUV large (up 7.4%).
Continuing their recent trend, Light Commercial vehicle sales improved, with an increase of 897 vehicles or 6.3 per compared to the same month last year.
As we have come to expect, Toyota remained the top selling marque in July with 24.4 per cent of the market, followed by Holden with 13.3 per cent and Ford with 11.3 per cent.
Toyota continues to dominate the year-to-date figures with 147,961 vehicles sold, followed by Holden with 78,271 and Ford with 63,933 vehicles.