Despite the Australian economy not looking as healthy as in recent months, consumers continue to purchase new vehicles.
Based on the latest May numbers released by the Federal Chamber of Industries (FCAI), there were 93,327 new cars brought that month. While this figure is 1.3 per cent down on May 2014, 2015 year to date is 2.5 per cent ahead of last year - a massive 452,577 new vehicles sold over the first five months.
State by state
With the above numbers in mind, it is always interesting to see how each state and territory is performing. While each has similar car prices and associated legislation, the slowing economy is hurting some states more than others.
New car sales fell 15.8 per cent in Western Australia, 5.8 per cent in South Australia and 3.1 per cent in Victoria. Sales improved in the Northern Territory (17 per cent), New South Wales (4.1 per cent), Tasmania (2.2 per cent), the ACT (0.9 per cent) and Queensland (0.3 per cent).
Most popular vehicle?
The FCAI releases this information each month and usually there are no surprises about the most popular vehicles across the country. However, May 2015 is definitely one out of the box.
For the first time, light commercial vehicles dominate the top five - with the Toyota Hilux taking the top spot from the Toyota Corolla.
There were more than 3,000 individual sales of the Hilux, putting it well ahead of second place Mazda3 (2,876) and the Corolla (2,688). The real highlight is the fact that other light commercial vehicles - the Mitsubishi Triton (2,683) and Ford Ranger (2,411) both made it into the list of the five top selling vehicles in Australia.
While this could just be a one-off, it will be interesting to see if this trend continues into the winter months.
FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber noted this growing trend in a June 3 media statement.
"In total, light commercial vehicle sales increased by 1 per cent, and they remain up 3.6 per cent year-to-date," he said.
"Light commercial vehicles were popular with government and business buyers in May, with sales to these buyer types up 5.9 and 2.7 per cent, respectively. While light commercial sales to private buyers declined 2.6 per cent compared to May 2014, private purchases of light commercials are up 11.2 per cent year-to-date."
Toyota Executive Director Tony Cramb said it could be a sign that the light commercial vehicles are becoming mainstream.
"Traditionally the ute was a tool of trade vehicle, that is changing over time. What the customer base is looking for is a more family oriented vehicle as well as a working utility vehicle."
Toyota continues to lead the way
With two out of the five most popular vehicles in its range, Toyota continues to be the top selling brand and claims the top honour for May. The Japanese manufacturer has a significant 17.1 per cent share of the Australian new car market - ahead of Mazda (9.3 per cent), Hyundai (8.9 per cent), Holden (8.5 per cent) and Mitsubishi (6.6 per cent).
This is always such a hotly contested prize and other manufacturers will surely be looking to improve their own fortunes in the coming months.
SUV sales rise again
The final interesting fact from May 2015's new car sales was in relation to SUV sales. Australia has seen SUV figures soar in recent months and May's 5.8 per cent should come as no surprise - close to four times what was sold in the same month last year.
"The vehicle type proved popular with private buyers, in particular. Private buyers purchased 10.1 per cent more SUVs in May 2015, than in May 2014," Mr Weber said.
"Business and government purchases of SUVs remained steady. SUV sales are up 13.5 per cent year-to-date."
If you are considering the purchase of a new vehicle, you can check CTP green slip prices before doing so. Generally SUVs are classified as Class 1 motor vehicles for the purpose of setting green slip prices. Vehicles such as a Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi Triton and Ford Ranger are classified as utes/light commercial vehicles and will generally attract a higher greenslip price than will a Class 1 vehicle. Use and ownership (private/business/company) will have an impct on CTP green slip prices.