Market forecasts have already written the fate of the new-car market for April 2020. For 24 consecutive months in March 2020, monthly sales for new cars in Australia have been taking a downward trajectory. With the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, this 25th month of negative growth was inescapable.
Sales Figures for April 2020
Car dealers in Australia suffered a depressing monthly sales turnout, hitting an all-time low in three decades.
FCAI reported that only 38,926 cars went home to their new owners in April, almost half (48.5%) of the sales in April of last year, which was 75,550. This is the 25th month in a row that the Australian new-car market has staggered on a year-on-year comparison, posting a sales performance of -17.9% in March.
Toyota leads still
For the past 17 years, Toyota has kept the trust of car buyers, and this month of all months affirms that faith!
These are record-breaking milestones for the Japanese car giant:
- Amid the COVID-19 crisis, Toyota took a big bite of the total sales - more than a fourth (26.5% to be exact – the highest in its history)! It means that for every four cars sold in Australia in April, one was a Toyota.
- Not only that, of the Top 10 vehicles in the sales chart, five are now wearing the tri-oval logo, compared to last month’s three (HiLux, RAV4, and Corolla). This is again a first-time feat for Toyota, with Prado 4WD and LandCruiser 200 joining the top ranks.
The Top 10 models
The Toyota HiLux has remained unopposed, followed by RAV4 and LandCruiser, relegating the Ford Ranger to fourth.
Toyota Corolla tails on fifth, with stablemate Toyota Prado on its heels. Worth noting here: If it were not for the Ford Ranger, Toyota would be lording the upper half of the chart!
That leaves the last four spots to Kia Cerato, Holden Colorado, and Isuzu D-Max, which overtook Hyundai i30 on the tenth.
Exciting Upsets & Pleasant Surprises
Looking back at our March 2020 sales, a total of 81,690 cars drove off the dealerships. What could be a silver lining at that time was Holden's resounding finish, indeed a 'fitting exit for a king.'
For the month that passed, several ‘upsets’ injected the industry with a much-needed excitement.
Kia upstages Ford and edges brother Hyundai (again!)
For the second month, Kia sold 245 units more than Hyundai, although both suffered from sales downturn of 45% and 65%, respectively. This is an unprecedented milestone for Kia, not only by doing Hyundai one better but also by ranking as the third brand with the largest market share after Toyota and Mazda.
BMW speeds to the Top 10 for the first time
For the first time in the German automaker’s history in the Land of Oz, it landed on the Top 10 brands! It sold more cars than Holden, Nissan and VW. It was also the only brand that reflected a single-digit sales decline (down by only 5.7%), while all the rest in the Top 10 automakers showed negative double-digit figures, with Hyundai slowing the most (down by 65.3%).
Stunning performers with RAM in the lead
This is ironic, sort of, but a reason to be happy about, nonetheless. All marques ranked in the Top 10 posted declines in market performance. Defying this trend, however, RAM and MG's monthly sales picked up at 14.1% and 1.5%, respectively, in a year-on-year comparison.
More remarkable are their year-to-date performance (sales for Jan-April 2020 compared to the same period in 2019) leapt to 27.2% for RAM and 75% for the Chinese-owned MG.
The biggest surprise of all: hybrids attain electrifying feat
Experts did forecast that the crisis would not be kind to the car industry and would deliver a fatal blow to the e-cars. They must have discounted the hybrids!
Below is a comparison of the hybrids' sales in April 2019 vs. April 2020. It shows that passenger car hybrids also weakened like other non-hybrid types. However, the SUV hybrids more than offset the negative figure with an increase of more than 10 times its sales last year.
Passenger car hybrids
% increase/ decrease
% increase/ decrease
% increase/ decrease
+1,064% or 11x
The numbers clearly indicate the direction the Aussies are taking. The force that drove the SUV hybrids’ unparalleled growth is attributed to the hybrid RAV4, which has started picking up in the market since last year.
Setbacks not as depressing: there’s a glimmer of hope
We have hit rock bottom in April, but we can look at it in two ways. Some sectors forlornly see the Fat Lady singing for the car industry in a few years, but that’s not where we’re setting our eyes on. We go with the optimists who predict an upturn. This is not wishful, fingers-crossed forecast because experts had been crunching numbers to arrive to this outlook.
Auto manufacturers and the car parts industry will have to absorb some losses and manage with slim margins to stay afloat. This decrease in revenues cuts across all sectors of the economy and is not exclusive to the automotive industry or the country. In fact, our sales decline of 48.5% was way lower than most countries which suffered market decreases of as much as 98%.
Steps toward the right direction
We can’t close our eyes to the growth in hybrid vehicle sales, which is a step towards the uptake of full EVs. It is an evident vote of confidence for the hybrids. This is a breath of fresh air since, for the last few decades, Australia has not been making significant headway toward its 2045 electrification goals. While hybrids are not exactly equal to EVs, they’re at least a step in the right direction.
By Jeannette Salanga (JMSL)