New car sales continue to crash, with Australia’s peak motor industry group blaming the flagging economy and strict lending conditions.
The number of vehicles sold across Australia last month was 6.9 per cent lower compared to September 2018, per data released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries on Thursday.
The Toyota Hi-Lux retained its title as the best selling model of the month despite a 22.5 per cent sales drop-off to 3364 from last year.
A total of 88,181 new vehicles drove off the lot during September, down 6,530 from the same month last year.
It marked the 18th consecutive month of decreasing sales, but the decline was nonetheless an improvement on a 10.1 per cent drop in August.
The long-running trend left FCAI chief executive Tony Weber questioning if the environment has become “too difficult for people to finance basic purchases in today’s Australia”.
“It is clear the slower sales rate the market is experiencing is in line with the broader economic environment in Australia,” Mr Weber said in a statement.
“Of particular concern to the industry is the restrictive regulatory lending conditions currently facing consumers.”
The September slump follows a 10.1 per cent drop in August and falls of 2.8 per cent in July, 9.6 per cent in June, 8.1 per cent in May and 8.9 per cent in April.
The latest figures bring total new vehicle sales to 811,464 for the year, 69,541 fewer – or 7.9 per cent lower – than at the same stage in 2018.
Passenger vehicles bore the brunt of the losses in September, down 18.3 per cent to 24,893, while the light commercial market also decreased 5.4 per cent to 18,257.
The sports utility market was the only segment to buck the trend, marginally lifting sales by 1.1 per cent to 41,861.
The Northern Territory and Tasmania led year-on-year losses among state and territories, both dropping 21.6 per cent.
New South Wales (10.6 per cent) was the next worst, followed by the ACT (10.0), Victoria (7.6), Western Australia (6.5) and Queensland (4.1).
Only South Australia posted an increase in sales, with purchases rising 16.2 per cent to 6,645.
Ute model Mitsubishi Triton was the biggest individual climber for the month and joined the Ford Ranger in the top three, while the Toyota Corolla slid to seventh as sales plummeted 23.9 per cent.
Toyota was the most popular brand in September, selling 19.0 per cent of new vehicles, with Mazda (9.7 per cent), Hyundai (8.2), Mitsubishi (7.9) and Ford (6.0) rounding out the top five.