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New vehicle sales figures released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) have revealed a continuing downturn in the automotive industry. A total of 60,986 sales were reported during the month, down 28.8 per cent on August 2019 when 85,633 sales were recorded.

The automotive industry figures were released one day after the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced a seven per cent drop in Gross Domestic Product for the June quarter – the largest drop ever recorded in a single quarter.

On a state-by-state basis, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the market is clear.

The best-performing state was the Australian Capital Territory with 1,312 sales, up 0.4 per cent on August 2019. New South Wales, Australia’s largest market, recorded 23,431 sales for the month, down 16.3 per cent on August 2019.

Victoria, which is currently under Stage 4 Restrictions, recorded a 65.9 per cent downturn with 8,347 sales for the month.

Tony Weber, chief executive of the FCAI, said that while the overall industry was showing some response to stimulus packages, the story for Victoria was less than promising.

“The industry has moved swiftly to implement robust COVIDSafe protocols to ensure the health and wellbeing of employees and customers is preserved,” he said.

“However, it is particularly difficult for our members and their Victorian dealer networks under the current Stage 4 Restrictions, and this is reflected in the reduced sales figures.”

Toyota was the top selling brand for the month, with 12,449 sales, followed by Mazda with 6,921 sales, Hyundai with 4,525 sales, Kia with 4,521 sales, and Mitsubishi with 4,308 sales.

“While we have the utmost respect for essential health priorities, the automotive industry supports the re-opening of our economy under appropriate COVIDSafe protocols,” Mr Weber said.

“We’ve seen 29 consecutive months of diminishing sales in this industry, and there’s no doubt our members are feeling the pinch. The move to commence the reopening of industry and markets, especially in Victoria, needs to start as soon as possible.”