Thursday, March 6th, 2014 - Roy Morgan Research

In 2003, over 1 in 4 Australians planning to buy a new car in the next four years intended to get a model manufactured here. Ten years on, and that Aussie-made intention has more than halved to around 1 in 8 new car buyers, the latest automotive data from Roy Morgan Research shows.

In fact, a similar proportion of 2003 buyers specifically wanted a Holden Commodore as want any Australian made car today. The Holden Commodore remains the most popular locally made car with 4% of all new car intenders putting the model (or one of its variants) on top of their to-buy list.

Holden’s Cruze is now the second most sought after locally made car (2.4%), with purchase intention in 2013 surpassing that for Toyota’s Camry/Vienta (2.1%) for the first time, although the Camry Hybrid scores an additional 0.8% of the market.

In 2003, 7.3% of buyers named the Ford Falcon/Fairmont/G-Series as the new car they planned to buy; by 2013, this was just 1.7%. Despite our growing penchant for SUVs, the 1.3% intending to buy a Ford Territory is the model’s lowest result since 2009.

% of New Car Intenders who intend to buy the locally made cars:

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia): January 2003 – December 2013, New Car Intenders (next 4 years) average annual n = 6178

The decline in intention to buy Australian made cars is largely due to a decline in popularity of the types of cars made in Australia. Large Cars were most popular in 2003 with more than 26% of the market after a model from this segment, well ahead of Small Cars on 16.5% and Compact SUVs on  8.3%. A decade later, and those wanting a Large Car have shrunk to 7.6% of the total new car market, behind Small and Medium, and Medium and Large SUVs.

Jordan Pakes, Group Account Director – Automotive, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Over the last 10 years, Australian car buying preferences have changed substantially – with the small car market in Australia now clearly the dominant segment with 1 in 4 new car buyers considering a model from this class. SUVs are also taking share from the once-dominant large car segment, with more than 20% of buyers now after either a Medium or Large SUV.

“One important factor influencing shifts in preference is the sheer increase in options for Australians. The number of brands available for purchase has increased by almost 25% since 2003, with those such as Aston Martin, Infiniti, Skoda, Isuzu Ute and Great Wall now available and many makes also boosting their model lists. An Australian new car buyer now chooses from over 350 vehicles.

“The strong Australian dollar, decreasing import tariffs and Australians’ appetite for new cars is making our market more attractive to importers than ever before.

“Initially designed to protect the local automotive industry, import tariffs have been on the decline since the ‘90s – dropping to just 5% in 2010 for any vehicles imported from a country with no free trade arrangement with Australia.

“When combining the increase in choice, changing vehicle preferences, higher local labour costs, strong Australia dollar, increasing petrol prices and decreased tariff protection it is not surprising to see the gradual demise of the locally built large car.

“From a consumer perspective, the end of the local automotive industry could actually result in new cars becoming more affordable. Around 690,000 new cars sold in Australia last year were hit with the import tariff—but with no local car industry to protect the government may not be able to justify tariffs. That could save car importers a combined $1billion+ per annum in fees, potentially available to be passed on to Australian consumers.”

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Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is Australia’s best known and longest established market research and public opinion survey company. Roy Morgan Single Source is thorough, accurate, and provides comprehensive, directly applicable information about current and future customers. It is unique in that it directs all the questions to each individual from a base survey sample of around 55,000 interviews in Australia and 15,000 interviews in New Zealand annually - the largest Single Source databases in the world. The questions asked relate to lifestyle and attitudes, media consumption habits (including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, cinema, catalogues, pay TV and the Internet), brand and product usage, purchase intentions, retail visitations, service provider preferences, financial information and recreation and leisure activities. This lead product is supported by a nationally networked, consultancy-orientated market research capability.
Shaun Ellis
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