CAR MARKET COOLS

Careful buying takes its toll on 2019’s sales

MARCH HAS PROVIDED Australia with its best month of sales so far this year, almost reaching six-figures over 31 days. But the market is still behind where it was last year, thanks to what the FCAI calls a ‘cautious consumer approach’. The sports car market, unsurprisingly, mimics the market’s slow start to the year, but there are a few cars exceeding where others fail.

For a start, the entire category of ‘sports cars between $80K and $200K’ has managed to remain close to its year-to-date (YTD) figure from last year, but is down 5.6 per cent. The under $80K segment copped a 35 per cent drop, while sales north of $200K finds a mid-point with a 15.3 per cent drop.

The best seller in the ‘$80K-$200K’ market is the one that’s also seen a large uptick in sales, the Mercedes C-Class Coupe and Cabriolet. While Bimmer’s 4 Series is down 8 per cent for its YDT total, and the Audi A5 coupe saw a massive 61 per cent dip in sales (why? See ‘Too Cool’ breakout to your right), the two-door C-Class sold 610 units across its range in 2019 so far, marking a 79.5 per cent uptick.

Interestingly, after only two sales in Feb, the Infiniti Q60 coupe sold 26 units in March. This makes it the fifth-most popular model in its category, just ahead of Jaguar’s F-Type and the Lexus RC.

In the sub-$80K category, the Ford Mustang remains a dominant force for sports cars affordable to mere mortals, even after a 38.4 per cent drop in sales from February’s strong 705 units, down to 434 ‘Stangs in March.

In a broader context, it’s not surprising that SUVs actually did most of the heavy lifting for March’s increase in sales over February. In total an extra 8368 SUVs were sold month-on-month versus an increase of just 1848 passenger cars. - Chris Thompson