How has car use changed in 2020?

Have you become more attached to your car again? The mood today seems to have shifted back towards cars, away from public transport and rideshare. Although car use in Sydney dropped dramatically during lockdown, it has 90% recovered to normal. Is this a lasting trend or just a blip on the way to Peak Car? Read More

Quad bikes or side-by-side vehicles (SSVs)

By March this year, nine people had already died in quad bike accidents. Quad bikes or ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) are often used on farms and not usually registered for sealed roads. But some say quad bikes are misnamed because they are not safe for sloping terrains. For this reason, more farmers are choosing side-by-side vehicles (SSVs). Read More

Mixed messages about car emissions

Back in October 2016, we wondered whether Australians care about car emissions. Nearly 4 years later, there are still mixed messages about cutting emissions. Australia still has no emissions standards. Meanwhile, ridesharing, SUVs and hybrids are increasing emissions faster than electric vehicles can lower them. Read More

Are car safety features effective?

Electronics could make up 45-50% of the cost of a new car by 2030. Many new cars use advanced driver assistance systems, such as automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. But do these extra really improve safety? Some features have proved to reduce insurance claims for BMWs in the US while others had no effect. Read More

Stop your car being stolen

Every 10 minutes somebody in Australia steals a vehicle and one in three owners never sees their car again. One great way to prevent theft is to store keys away from windows and doors but two in five people don’t bother. Be more vigilant if you own a Holden Commodore, live in Northern Territory or go out on Friday nights. Read More

Sedans could make a comeback

Nearly half of new car sales in February 2020 were SUVs, a sign of Australia’s preference for high riding. Passenger vehicles trailed behind, with just over a quarter of sales. Even so, there are a few signs sedans will make a comeback. Read More

Is 2020 the best time to buy a car?

Until things turn around, right now may be a very good time to buy a car. Australia’s car industry has suffered 24 consecutive months of falling sales. Only during the GFC in March 2009 were new car sales lower than in March 2020. We even saw the end of that Aussie brand, Holden.

Buy a top four brand

Some brands are still doing well. In March 2020, the top four were Toyota Hi-Lux, Ford Ranger, Toyota RAV4 (thanks to the hybrid) and Toyota Corolla. Clearly Toyota is doing something right. In fact, Toyota’s market share of new sales rose from 18.5% as at March 2019 to 21.5% as at March 2020. Second and third market leaders, Mazda and Mitsubishi, both lost share during that year.

Mazda was the second most popular brand but with sales only 40% of Toyota’s. Meanwhile Kia’s sales in fourth place eclipsed its parent, Hyundai, for the first time. Three other brands had a good month, including MG, Ram Trucks with right-hand-drive, and Chinese marque, Haval.

Buy a used car

Of course, you may not want to buy a brand new car. Carsales says used car sales are usually 2.5 to 3 times higher than new car sales. They also depend on consumer confidence and unemployment rates. Car auction house Manheim claims:

  • 1% fall in consumer confidence means used car prices fall 3%
  • 1% increase in unemployment means used car prices fall 3.5%.

If you prefer a used car, there may not be a better time to buy.

The question now is how to buy. Do you visit a dealership or do you buy online?

Buy a car online

Two years ago, Budget Direct found three quarters of Australians prefer to buy cars in person. Only a third of men, compared to a fifth of women, were willing to buy online. That was a long time ago in the car world. More and more car brands are selling online and, thanks to coronavirus, more people want to buy online.

There are signs digital comes first while the showroom takes a back seat:

  • Hyundai’s new online system, Click to buy, allows you to select a vehicle and accessories to get the estimated driveaway price. You can still negotiate with the selling dealer.
  • Volkswagen buyers can now get the entire car range online. You pay $500 deposit on a model, then the designated dealership contacts you within 2 days to complete the process
  • BMW is developing a fully online purchasing system
  • Toyota already sells and finances cars online and takes about 50 online financial quotes a day.

For those who don’t mind paying 1.5% commission for convenience, there is You say exactly what kind of vehicle you want, dealers submit their prices, and the winning dealer delivers the car to your door.

We have previously written that many people prefer the human touch, but that may change. Dealerships are open, but you can increasingly do your car shopping from home. Remember all new cars come fully registered with a current greenslip but a used car may have little registration left or none.

Smart cars vulnerable to cyberattack

Some people think of their car as a personal sanctuary where they can find some privacy. Yet, one of the biggest themes in the auto industry is connectivity. In the US, GM, Toyota, and Ford, sell only internet-connected cars and this trend will continue. However, always-on connectivity leaves them open to cyberattack and there could be more than privacy at stake. Read More

Tug of war between SUVs and climate

There is a tug of war going on between vehicles we are supposed to be driving – small, electric – and vehicles we want to drive – big, conventional. Some 200 million SUVs are on the world’s roads today, up from about 35 million in 2010. Yet the International Energy Agency says SUVs were the second biggest contributor, after the power sector, to increases in global emissions of CO2. Growing demand for SUVs could even negate all the environmental benefits of electric cars. Read More

Total recalls – they keep going up

Did you know car recalls in Australia have tripled in 7 years to 2019? Manufacturers recalled some 230 vehicles in 2019, not including the Takata airbag crisis. Have we lost the ability to manufacture quality cars? If a brand new car still has loose wheel nuts, is it safe to buy a new car? Read More