How’s that old Janis Ian song go? “I learned the truth at seventeen . . .”

Well the car industry is learning some home truths right about now after its 17th straight month of falling sales.

Total sales for the month of August were down 10.1 per cent on the same period last year, while passenger car sales plunged a spectacular 16.7 per cent.

In fact, every single segment of the market recorded a downturn.

Year to date, the market is down 8 per cent overall, with 723,283 sales so far  this year, compared with 786,294 in 2018 — a drop of 63,011 vehicles.

If it was the Economy, they’d be talking about a recession — and that’s after just two consecutive quarters of economic decline.

Announcing the figures in Melbourne, Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) boss Tony Weber made little effort to remain upbeat.

“There’s no doubt it is a very tough market at the moment and despite the best efforts of the industry, the decline in sales continues,” he said.

“This environment stems from a slow start to the year, with tight financial lending, State and Federal elections and a general lack of consumer confidence — both here in Australia and on an international basis.

“The question needs to be asked about whether the current regulatory approach to financing is appropriate, and if not, what harm it is doing to both the sector and the economy more broadly?” Mr Webber said.

Total sales for the month of August were reported at 85,633 units.

Passenger vehicles dropped 16.7 per cent with 25,783 sales, SUVs were down 5.4 per cent with 39,040 sales and light commercial vehicles finished 8.6 per cent down with 17,513 sales.

Toyota maintained its position as the top selling brand with 16,700 sales and a 19.5 per cent share of the market, followed by Hyundai (7320 sales for 8.5 per cent market share) and Mazda (7291 sales for 8.5 per cent market share), Mitsubishi (6242 sales for 7.3 per cent market share) and Ford (4916 sales for 5.7 per cent market share).

Holden — remember them — finished in ninth spot, with just 3569 sales and only 4.2 per cent of the market, leading to further speculation about the future of the once great brand.

Eagle-eyed readers will spot the fact Toyota sold more Hi-Lux utes than all of Holden’s sales combined, with sales of its once glorious Commodore down 25 per cent — at just 509 units in August.

Then there’s Nissan’s luxury wannable Infiniti, which after another disastrous month, with sales down more than 60 per cent, has apparently decided to pull the plug — again! (no official statement yet).

The top five selling vehicles for the month of August were: Hi-Lux (3674), followed by the Ford Ranger (3181), Toyota Corolla (2863), Hyundai i30 (2813) and the Toyota RAV4 (2006).

sales - holden commodore - Sales nightmare continues for car companies
Commodore . . . sales down.

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.