Shock trend emerges in latest car sales
There's a silent revolution happening on our roads.
For years Australians have flocked to fuel-guzzling family cars.
First it was the big six-cylinder sedans, then four-wheel-drive utes.
Now there's a new favourite emerging - and it's good news for the environment.
The Toyota RAV4 topped the sales charts in July, knocking the HiLux 4WD off its perch.
The SUV achieved the feat on the back on huge demand for its hybrid model.
Toyota says 80 per cent of RAV4 sales in July were hybrid versions, while there were also strong sales for the hybrid variants of the Camry, Corolla and C-HR.
Toyota now sells more hybrids than most of its rivals sell cars.
In July, the brand sold 6200 hybrids - 40 per cent of its total sales. To put that in perspective, third-placed Mitsubishi sold only 4684 vehicles in total.
Hybrid sales have almost doubled in the first seven months of this year, despite the fact that the industry is down by close to 20 per cent this year.
Year-to-date, sales of the RAV4 - News Corporation's 2019 Car of the Year - are up by more than 40 per cent.
The RAV4 hybrid is $2500 more than the equivalent petrol version of the RAV4 but in the city, where most people do most of their driving, it uses roughly half the petrol. If you drive the national average of about 15,000km a year, that will save you about $1100 a year.
The savings are less in highway driving because there's less braking involved. Hybrids recharge their batteries when braking.
Sales of electric vehicles are also up by about 28 per cent this year, although those figures are misleading because they include plug-in hybrids and don't include Tesla because the company refuses to share its sales figures.
There were other areas of the market bucking the COVID-inspired downturn.
Sales of Chinese vehicles continue to soar, up more than 50 per cent this year, while luxury brands are weathering the storm better as wealthy buyers cash in their holidays for a new set of wheels.
The good news is unlikely to last for long, as next months figures will likely show a sharp decline with Victoria in lockdown.
The industry is lobbying the Victorian Government to allow car sales to continue but at the moment the advice from government is that only service and repairs work can be done.
Tony Weber, the chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, said the industry continued to face "challenging and difficult conditions".
"The extended Stage 4 Restrictions which have now been invoked in Australia's second
largest market, Victoria, will no doubt further challenge the industry during the coming
months," Mr Weber said.
TOP TEN VEHICLES IN JULY
1. Toyota RAV4
2. Ford Ranger
3. Toyota HiLux
4. Toyota Corolla
5. Hyundai i30
6. Mazda CX-5
7. Mitsubishi Triton
8. Mazda CX-3
9. Toyota Camry
TOP TEN BRANDS YEAR-TO-DATE
Originally published as Shock trend emerges in latest car sales