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Car sales hit eight-year low as tax, rate cuts fail to rev up buyers

There were some positive signs, with sales soaring 15 per cent in the small Tasmanian market while in Western Australia they were up by 5 per cent. But in the Northern Territory, sales dipped 8 per cent.

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FCAI chief executive Tony Webber said while there had been a slight slowing in the downward trend, the market was continuing to struggle.

“The July sales figures continue to illustrate the tough market conditions facing the Australian automotive industry and the sensitive nature of the economy over the past 12 months,” he said.

“Tight financial lending, drought, increasing luxury car tax imposts and the federal election have all contributed to make the Australian car market one of the toughest in the world.”

July marked the first month of the government’s cut in personal income taxes that delivered up to $1080 in relief to middle-income earners. It was also in July that the Reserve Bank of Australia cut official interest rates to their current record low of 1 per cent.

Through the first seven months of the year, Australians have bought 637,650 vehicles, a 7.7 per cent drop on the same period last year.

Passenger cars continue to be the softest part of the market, with sales down 11.1 per cent on July 2018. Sales of sports utility vehicles are down 3.5 per cent over the past year.

There were also drops in the light and heavy commercial vehicle markets. Sales of the nation’s best-selling make, the Toyota HiLux, were down 10.4 per cent in July.

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