-By Caroline Falls-
The August VFACTS data of new vehicle sales in Australia shows a continued trend towards buying SUVs, including by business.
Sales of so-called sports ulitility vehicles, or SUVs, have boomed in the past year, particularly small SUVs. Sales in that category grew 51.3 percent in August compared with the same month a year earlier, according to VFACTS data released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.
Over all of the SUV categories — small, medium , large and upper large — business buyers drove away with 12.1 percent more SUVs in the month.
The trend is likely more a reflection of the increasingly popular novated leasing in salary packaging than of businesses choosing to replace light commercial vehicles or passenger cars with SUVs.
“There’s a strong increase in novated leasing and that’s assisted these increases in SUV sales to business,” said Anthony Cowell, fleet manager at Melbourne City Hyundai.
Novated leasing is a salary packaging offer increasingly being taken up by employees. Employees select their car and employers agree to make the repayments from the employee’s pre-tax salary in an arrangement which reduces the employee’s taxable income.
Cowell said novated leaseholders are thinking, like anyone, that rather than purchase a passenger vehicle, they’d prefer an SUV that they can use for weekend leisure pursuits and which tend to fetch a better resale value. The increase in sales to business, as in retail, reflects personal preferences, Cowell said.
Hyundai’s ix35 was the biggest seller in the small SUV category, selling 1967 units, or 21 percent of the category. It was followed by the Mazda CX-3 and the Honda CR-V.
Commenting on the top sales of the end-of-line product that’s making way for Hyundai’s new model Tucson SUV series, Cowell said.
“The big factor is the ix35 has been well priced these last few months because it’s in run out.”
The number one ranking in the small SUV category helped bolster Hyundai’s ranking in the overall sales for the month to second place. Hyundai sales rose 10.5 percent to 9505 last month, compared with a year ago. That’s three times faster than the overall industry growth of 2.9 percent to 90,705 vehicles sold in August.
Other highlights from the business end of the VFACTS vehicle sales data are:
- Growth in business buying of passenger vehicles of 2.8 percent to 13,652 in August from the same month a year ago.
- A decline in light commercial vehicle sales of 1.9 percent to 7881 month on month.
- An overall increase in sales to business across all vehicle types of 4.4 percent, or 1348 to 31,892 in August 2015, compared with August 2014.