New car sales continued its downward spiral for the month of May. Compared to April’s steep decline of 48.5% (sales reduction over the same month last year), the sales in May picked up a bit and slowed down the drop to 35.3%.
Optimists see this as the first signs of recovery, not only from the ravages of COVID-19 but also from the sales downturn that has since plagued the industry for 26th months now.
However, pessimists (or realists, if you will) point out that context is important. The seeming rise in the May figure could only mean that April was an extraordinarily sharp dive in sales and does not necessarily indicate a recovery in the market.
The April 2020 performance was the most significant decline in three decades. With COVID-19 in the picture, this figure could well be an outlier and not part of the 26-month sales trend. Besides, EOFY deals always make May a busy month for car dealerships. If we looked at January’s -12.5% year-on-year sales comparison to March’s -17.8%, calling May’s -35.3% performance as a sign of recovery would indeed sound absurd.
Sales Figures for May 2020
Regardless of how people differ in their views, they agree on one thing – the sales in May improved over April 2020’s numbers.
A total of 59,894 vehicles were sold for the month, according to FCAI, reflecting a 35.3% decline from May of last year's sales (92,961).
This shows a meaningful uptick of buyers’ interest when compared to April’s dismal show of 38,926 vehicles sold and a year-to-year comparison of – 48.5%. While it’s still too early to conclude that the market is on the mend, the months of June and July will either confirm or refute these hopeful forecasts.
A total of 57,279 passenger cars, utes, SUVs and vans went home to their new owners. The remaining 2,615 vehicles were trucks.
Toyota Still Reins
Toyota HiLux continues to hold onto the top spot, with four other Toyotas in the Top 10. Unlike in the previous month, the Japanese brand occupied only three positions in the top 5 instead of four in April.
So HiLux has Ford Ranger on its heels, followed by RAV4, Corolla, and Mazda CX-5 for the first five. Toyota Prado, Land Cruiser, Hyundai i30, Mazda3, and Hyundai Tucson complete the lead, kicking Kia Cerato, Holden Colorado, and Isuzu D-Max off the Top 10 list.
Toyota still dominates the market with 14,466 total sales but falls short compared to last month’s 26.5% market share. Mazda ranks next, trailing behind with 5,661 cars sold. Hyundai manages to take the third podium position with 4,109 vehicles turned over to new car owners.
Strong Month for Some Brands and the EVs and Hybrids
May was not all that disappointing for some brands. Haval, for instance, sold more this month than the same time last year, with 207 vehicles delivered to customers compared to 119 in 2019. BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, MG and RAM also saw year-to-year sales increases this month. The British sports car manufacturer Lotus showed improved sales as well from 1 sold last year to 6 units this May.
Sales of EVs and plug-in hybrids went up by 28%, which is encouraging. Hybrid sales, on the other hand, dropped by 7%, which is not all that bad considering that the hybrids had a markedly strong market presence in April. Also, this figure does not include the Teslas yet.
Not so lucky this month were Honda, Citroen, Mercedes-Benz, and Kia, all suffering slumps in their monthly tally. Holden, meanwhile, is clearing its last few stocks.
SUVs make up almost half of the pie. Roughly a quarter are light commercial vehicles, while the other quarter are passenger cars.
Is this month’s performance the turning point in what some people see as the V-shape recovery we've all been waiting for? Will the new car market continue to buoy up sales through June and July? Well, we certainly hope so! Twenty-six months in a row is an awfully long time for an industry to be nosediving without letup. Something has to change and fast!
FCAI chief executive Tony Weber sees the government’s JobSeeker, JobKeeper, and Instant Asset Write Off programs as timely supports to people. The latter, particularly, has a real potential to boost the market if extended beyond 30th June 2020.
We will follow this issue not only in June or July but until such time that we see the industry rolling on its wheels again. Join us and keep yourself updated by bookmarking Carpart.com.au. Plus, you may use our free tools to request car parts and locate shops and mechanics. You will find these tools handy in maintaining your vehicles properly!
By Jeannette Salanga (JMSL)