Image Source: Union of Concerned Scientists

Sales of new vehicles in Australia slumped sharply again in September, down 6.9 per cent for the 18th consecutive monthly fall, and despite a rise in electric vehicle and hybrid sales and a burst of activity from Tesla’s newly released Model 3.

The Federated Chamber of Automotive Industries, the peak body for the automotive industry in Australia, says the total September sales of 88,181 new vehicle sales was down 6.9 per cent on the same month last year, and the year-to-date total of 811,464 vehicles represents a fall of 7.9 per cent.

The FCAI blames economic factors, and tight lending restrictions from financial institutions.

“It is clear the slower sales rate the market is experiencing is in line with the broader economic environment in Australia,” FCAI Tony Weber chief executive said in a statement.

“Of particular concern to the industry is the restrictive regulatory lending conditions currently facing consumers. The question has to be asked – are these results telling us we have made it too difficult for people to finance basic purchases in today’s Australia?”

The FCAI makes no mention of the impact of electric vehicles, despite the fact that their numbers are surging, and had doubled in the year to the start of September, albeit from a very small base. And that was before the Model 3 deliveries began in earnest.

Numerous surveys point to the fact that many consumers are holding on to their current cars for longer – until they see an EV they like and can afford. Most are looking for EVs because they are fun to drive, and also because they are less polluting.

All of the limited offering of new EVs  in Australia at the moment cost around $A50,000 or more, although many enthusiasts have stretched their budget to pick up the Model 3, which costs a minimum $A72,000 on the road, up to $A100,000 or more.

Tesla does not release its country sales data, and FCAI does not track them.

As we wrote earlier this week, it is thought that up to 1,500 Model 3s were delivered in September, which would rank it close to the top five passenger vehicles for the month, with the Hyundai i30 topping that list at 2,447, followed by the Toyota Corolla and Kia Cerato and the Mazda 3.

It would also mean that Tesla would be placed number 15 in terms of total sales by brand for the month, and the Model 3 would have sold more than its direct fossil fuel competitors combined – BMW, Mercedes and Audi.

Overall sales of new passenger vehicles – excluding Tesla vehicles – slumped 18.3 per cent to 24,893 units for the month. The light commercial market was also down 5.4 per cent, while the SUV market rose by 1.1 per cent to 41,861.

Total hybrid vehicle sales were 2046, and FCAI reported 366 plug in and pure electric car sales. But they will not have included Tesla.

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