The Australian vehicle market ended 2009 in a rush, as deliveries lifted to meet the deadline for the big business tax break on capital expenditure.
Sales in December were up 12,198 or 16 per cent on December 2008, although seasonally adjusted they were about 4,000 below December 2007, the last month of a record sales year.
The good monthly result ended a year which started very weakly but lifted as business buying responded to the tax break – the deadline for delivery of vehicles to larger businesses ended on 31 December while small businesses had to order vehicles by then to be eligible for their even more generous tax break.
December sales illustrated just how important the business tax break was, with light vehicle sales to business up 45 per cent on December 2008 and sales to rental companies – which lagged badly for most of the year – up 32 per cent. In contrast sales to private buyers were down marginally and government sales down more severely.
For the full year sales to business were down by one per cent while private sales were down 8 per cent; government and rental sales were down more markedly, with total sales down 7.4 per cent.
But luxury brands did better than most, with Audi increasing its full year sales by 20 per cent and BMW and Mercedes sales down just one per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively. The business tax break and the improving value of the Australian currency against the Euro during the year favoured these brands.