21/05/2008 - 11:25

New car sales in WA rise 2% for April

21/05/2008 - 11:25

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New motor vehicle sales in Western Australia rose by 2 per cent in April, bucking the trend as higher interest rates and rising fuel costs saw national sales fall by 0.8 per cent seasonally adjusted, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said today.

New car sales in WA rise 2% for April

New motor vehicle sales in Western Australia rose by 2 per cent in April, bucking the trend as higher interest rates and rising fuel costs saw national sales fall by 0.8 per cent seasonally adjusted, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said today.

It marked the lowest monthly sales figures, 89,255 units, since October last year.

Total vehicle sales increased 3.5 per cent in the year to April.

Passenger car sales fell 1.9 per cent to 51,383 units in April, its lowest level since December 2006, while sales of sports utility vehicles (SUVs) declined 1.7 per cent for the month.

Commsec equities economist Savanth Sebastian said the fall in new car sales reflected the impact of higher interest rates on spending in the private sector.

The Reserve Bank of Australia has lifted the official cash rate one percentage point since August last year to a near-12 year high of 7.25 per cent, while banks have increased their rates additionally to cover their increased borrowing costs from the global credit crunch.

"If you looked at private sales and SUVs, they have fallen in trend in terms for the three consecutive months," Mr Sebastian said.

"It is really showing that the rate hikes are certainly working.

"The higher cost of petrol is seeing people certainly change the size of cars they are looking to purchase."

Sales of other vehicles - which includes vans, trucks and buses - rose 3.0 per cent, to its highest ever level of 20,208 units.

Mr Sebastian said the mining boom states, Western Australia and Queensland, gave the figures some bounce.

"It was essentially held up by the resource states and the business sector."

Tasmania had the biggest rise in car sales for April, 6.4 per cent, while Queensland, up 3.5 per cent, and Western Australia, two per cent, also bucked the overall lower tone.

The Northern Territory had the biggest fall in total car sales, 7.3 per cent, and New South Wales dropped 4.2 per cent for the month.

New South Wales had its lowest total car sales since December 2006, 25,994 units.

Consumers may also "rush out" to buy luxury cars to avoid the rise in the tax for vehicles valued more than $57,000, which will be introduced from July 1 this year, Mr Sebastian said.

The federal government announced in its budget last week it was lifting the tax on luxury cars from 25 per cent to 33 per cent.

"And no doubt, (we'll) get a spike in the car sales figures in the next two months," he said.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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