Million Dollar Holdens and a Market that refuses to bust

February 9th, 2021

A feature of the Australian ethos is that we rarely behave in ways the rest of the world might expect.

When the Covid-19 Pandemic struck and some other nations ignored the threat or at best hedged their bets, we shut our airports, told people to wear masks and work from home. In some places we even closed the pubs.

Down the automotive end of the mall, prospects during April and May did look dire. Soon enough though the storm shutters rolled up, stock was discovered lurking in holding yards and customer feet again trod the caryard concrete.

Not so in Europe and other parts of the Northern Hemisphere, where genuine panic gripped new and used vehicle sales and recent statistics detail a sorry tale.

Europe suffered from market nerves and supply issues, with major markets down by around 20 percent against 2019 and figures from late in the year showing no great willingness to rebound in the way Australia has done.

Germany did record a minor improvement but at the same time suffered the indignity of seeing its Volkswagen Group lose global market leadership to Toyota.

Sales in Italy and France were down by a fifth, however Britain with its constant lockdowns saw the greatest decline, with a loss of 29.4 percent against 2019 levels. Those with an eye to the UK Government’s promise to eliminate petrol and diesel sales by 2035 did show willingness to comply however and helped push sales of electric and hybrid vehicles up by almost 200 percent.

With grateful acknowledgement to vehicle sales statisticians VFACTS and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industry, we are able to share with Enthusiast clients some local data which generally goes unreported and shows just how unique a market Australia has become.

The news which did gain the most mainstream coverage was a drop of 13.7 percent in overall sales against 2019. This decline occurred mainly during the middle months of the year and was directly attributable to Covid-19 lockdowns in various parts of the country.

What many news sources generally did not realise or mention was the extraordinary recovery which is underway, with 12.4 percent growth in November 2020 and a 13.5 percent December 2020 increase on 2019 sales levels.

Already during January 2021 that positive sentiment has continued, with reports of stock shortages and rising prices failing to dampen a market that was 11 percent up on January 2020 levels.

While dissecting data at the exclusive end of the market we also discovered some intriguing statistics for vehicles outside the mainstream and whose numbers are rarely mentioned.

As many customers will know, Enthusiast Insurance offers cover to a wide range of motor vehicle brands and ages; from the ancient and obscure to modern and mainstream.

Our preference is for those that are used only occasionally and held in the highest regard by their owners. These are people who also appreciate the exclusivity of the vehicles they own and contribute to the survival of models that are rarities on Australian roads.

Recently our television screens have been filled with news that was not exclusively about fires, pandemics, and pestilence but the sale at auction of some rare and sometimes expensive vehicles. These generally are products of Australian manufacturers and in a couple of cases have realised more than $1 million.

Others brought bids that were considerably lower but still managed to set sales records for their particular brand and model. Cars that in days of fiscal conservatism might have made $20-35,000 have during recent months registered bids at double their previous prices and more.

While these sales contribute to the well-being of vehicle vendors and success of the auction houses, they do tend to create a climate of apprehension where people feel compelled to buy something that represents an era of social freedom which they fear may not return.

On the New Car side of the ledger, prominent prestige brands including Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche did remarkably well against a background of financial gloom.

BMW. Audi and Porsche made actual gains on their 2019 sales. as did Lotus. Mercedes-Benz lost volume but claimed gains in some sectors as did overall market leader Toyota. On a sad note, the 2020 VFACTS charts were very likely the last to show listings of Holden sales. But times change and brands thought to be dead and gone can sometimes make stunning comebacks.

One that fits this description is MG. It was founded in Britain during 1929 and built cars in the UK until 2005 when ownership of the brand passed to the Chinese-based Nanjing Automobile Group. Initial sales were slow but during 2020 when other brands were suffering supply issues, a well-stocked network of MG dealers retailed 15,253 vehicles and almost doubled the brand’s 2019 volume.

MGs of all types and ages are eligible for cover with Enthusiast Insurance. So are BMWs, Jaguars and even Toyotas. Enthusiast when calculating your insurance cost will consider the distance the car travels annually, how it is housed and driver history rather than just the vehicle’s age or model.

For a quote, head to the Enthusiast website any time of the day or night and check the amount you may be able to save.