Vehicle Sales on Cruise Control

Latest sales data suggests that vehicle sales continue on cruise control, moving upwards gradually in total to amount to 1.168 million vehicles sales for the year-ended April 2016, a rise of 3.7% on the prior year. However, the details show that more and more Australian vehicles are designated as non-passenger vehicles. Whether this signals an economy that is growing its industrial activity or more families are moving themselves in work vans used by family businesses isn’t clear.

Total passenger vehicles sales amounted to 504,993 for the year-ended April 2016, accounting for 43.2% of total vehicle sales. This is the lowest proportion on record, as the chart below displays. In fact, a year ago, passenger vehicles accounted for 46.5% of the total. A decade ago, they accounted for close to 62% of the total.


To go straight to the dashboard and take a closer look at the data, click here.

With total vehicle sales having hit a year-end record for each of the last seven months, the prospect that vehicle sales are another piece of evidence of a growing economy could be accurate. Except that the economy didn’t grow in the March quarter, as this edition of Statistics Count has outlined.

So with that in mind, it seems highly likely households are replacing their passenger vehicles with what are classed as industrial or commercial vehicles. This makes sense in an economy where the number of sole traders, partnerships and small businesses has been growing steadily for some years. As the family gets around to replacing a vehicle, it seems the business is coming first and the comfort of the kids on the back bench is less important than maintaining the family income.