National car sales trends 2011

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Six months of increasing new car sales in the second half of 2011 reversed a declining downward trend in sales that had been in place for 12 months. The turnaround came after May 2011 where new vehicle sales were the lowest since November 2009i.

The numbers, collected by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), give a monthly insight into trends of new motor vehicles sales across Australia. Figures show that 2011 got off to a reasonable start with just under 84,300 new vehicles being sold in January 2011 but sales were on a slippery downward slope - sales were in decline every month for five months before making a strong recovery in the second half of the year. The motor vehicle sales volume for 2011 reached its peak in Novemberi. By December 2011, sales were at 2,659 cars above January figuresi.

New motor vehicle sales trends Jan 03 - Dec 11 (Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics)

New car sales reached their peak in January 2008, when 90,542 new cars were bought in one monthi. However between January 2008 and March 2009, new vehicle sales were in freefalli. During these 14 months, sales plummeted by 19.6%. In March 2009, sale levels were similar to six years priori. Since March 2009 Australia's new vehicle retail industry has experienced a swift upturn; however, they are not quite at the peak sales volumes of January 2008i.

The rise of the SUVs

It seems that new vehicle sales are making a strong recovery in light of our recent economic downturn and, interestingly, sales volumes have been particularly high in the Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) sector. Figures from the FCAI show that in 2011 nearly 1 out of every 4 new cars bought in Australia was an SUVii.

Sales by vehicle type Dec 2010 & Dec 2011 (Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries)

SUVs are now the fastest growing sector in the Australian car market. One market in particular, the Luxury SUV market, experienced a 22.4% increase in sales in the year 2010 to 2011ii. On the flip side, the largest decrease in sales has been in seen in the Large Vehicle segment, with sales in this segment falling by 20.8%ii. Compared to the new vehicle sales in the month of December 2010, SUVs took up another 5.7% of the total sales in the month of December 2011ii. In comparison, where SUVs gained market share, passenger vehicles lost 3.4%ii.

New SUV sales in Australia (Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries)

If you are buying a new vehicle it's extremely important to protect your investment by taking out car insurance. Comprehensive car insurance protects you in the event of the theft or damage of your vehicle, or damage to third party property.

i Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011, Sales of new motor vehicles, released at 18/01/12,

ii Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, 2011, Vehicle sales for December 2011,