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Record March for Australian market

A record March result of 106,988 sales delivered a strong 4.4 per cent first quarter growth for the Australian new vehicle market according to the motor industry’s official statistical service VFACTS.

Tony Weber, chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

Australia’s new vehicle market grew 1.5 per cent in March, compared with the same month last year. It marked the ninth month of record industry sales in the past 11 months and brought the year-to-date total to 291,538 sales.

The March result was boosted by notable sales gains in small and medium SUVs, light and micro passenger cars.

Small SUVs climbed 32.8 per cent compared with March 2017, while medium SUVs increased sales by 10.1 per cent. The micro car market jumped 47.2 per cent, while light cars gained a healthy 6.9 per cent.

SUVs provided the market’s firm support during March with private sales up 7.6 per cent and business sales up 0.4 per cent in a segment which increased 9.7 per cent overall compared with the same month last year. SUV sales grew progressively during the first quarter to now represent 42.3 per cent of the total market.

The light commercial market dipped slightly overall (down 0.4 per cent) in March, although sales of 4WD utes and cab chassis models were still up 3.2 per cent compared with the same month last year. The LC segment grew over the March quarter however, and now represents 19.7 per cent of the total market.

Five of the states and territories recorded sales gains during March compared with the same month last year, the Northern Territory led the way with 12.8 per cent growth. 

The Chief Executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Tony Weber, said that the healthy first quarter growth demonstrated that consumers were attracted by the diversity of product and the value on offer.

“To have the market at 4.4 per cent ahead of last year’s record total is a clear vote of consumer confidence in the economy’s stability and low interest rates, both key factors which encourage private buyers and businesses into new vehicles,” Weber said.

“The continued growth of SUVs in our market comes in the same week as the US Environmental Protection Agency indicated it would adopt less stringent and more realistic emissions targets into the future.”

Toyota was the market leader for March with a 17.6 per cent share, followed by Mazda with 9.1 per cent, Mitsubishi with 8.2 per cent, Hyundai (7.9 per cent) and Ford (6.3 per cent).

The Toyota Hilux, which led the market last year, maintained its top-seller position in March with 4,348 sales, followed by the Ford Ranger (4,064 sales), Toyota Corolla (3,218), Mitsubishi Triton (3,109) and the Mazda3 (2,780).


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$1.5m in counterfeit car parts seized

Toyota oil filter – Geniune (left) and counterfeit (right) 

Tactical sweep raids have captured 178,781 counterfeit car parts likely bound for Australian cars.

Eight raids across the United Arab Emirates, conducted as a joint effort between Al Futtaim and the UAE Government, have netted a massive haul of parts valued at NZ$1.5 million.

Over two months the raids were executed across Al Ain, Umm al Quwain and Dubai. Counterfeit investigation experts have again confirmed the parts were likely headed for Australian streets.

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries’ (FCAI) Chief Executive Tony Weber slammed the counterfeiters, noting the trade of fake car parts as a growing concern.

“It’s over 178,000 illegal unsafe parts which will damage cars and pose a serious safety risk to the driving public. Our understanding is that this is just a small percentage of what is out there. Counterfeit parts put drivers, families and the general public at risk,” Mr Weber said.

Captured items appeared to be the same as those confiscated recently in Australian raids. Fake oil filters, bear a striking resemblance to those the local industry confiscated, prosecuted, tested and alerted the Australian public about in late 2017.

“The automotive industry and Border Force are doing their utmost to suppress the rising tide of this dangerous trade,” he said.

“It is becoming clear the counterfeit car part market is operated by a sophisticated global network of criminals with contempt for global road safety. Their means of deception underscores how deeply they are invested in cheating car owners.”

The seizure adds to the tally for the first quarter of 2018, with 10,500 counterfeits confiscated in January raids by the Department of Economic Development in Abu Dhabi.

“We implore the public to protect themselves and their cars with dealership servicing or by insisting that their mechanic only use original and high-quality automotive components sourced from authorised dealers,” said Mr Weber.

“That’s the only way you can ensure your vehicle will be protected and your safety assured.”

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Australia’s new vehicle market continues to grow

Australia’s new vehicle market grew 6.1 per cent in the first two months of 2018 compared with the same period last year.

Tony Weber, chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

Last month’s industry total of 95,999 was an increase of 7.8 per cent over February last year and lifted the 2018 year-to-date cumulative total to 184,550.

This pattern maintains strong industry momentum at an important time.

Comparing last month’s outcomes with those of February 2017, many key segments of the market produced positive results with light passenger cars up by 10.3 per cent, small passenger cars up by 9.4 per cent and three of the four SUV segments showing double-digit growth.

SUVs remained the dominant segment with 41.5 per cent of the February market, with passenger cars holding a 35.9 per cent share, and light commercials continuing their steady climb to a 19.5 per cent share.

Light commercials produced strong gains again in the two key light truck segments, with 4×2 pick-up and cab chassis models up by 7.1 per cent (compared with February 2017) and 4WD versions increasing by 17.9 per cent.

All the states and territories produced sales gains during February compared with the same month last year. The strongest result was for Victoria which increased 14.2 per cent, followed by Tasmania with 11.8 per cent, Western Australia with 10 per cent, then the ACT (+9.7%), Queensland (+6.0%), South Australia (+5.8%), NSW (+3.4%) and the NT (+1.3%).

The Chief Executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Tony Weber, said that the strong 2018 growth provided further proof that the fiercely competitive nature of the Australian new vehicle market was providing strong value for the consumer.

“Consumers are supporting the value propositions that the brands are offering,” Mr Weber said.

“To have the market already running 6.1 per cent ahead of last year’s record total indicates that consumer confidence is still strong, and all those elements which underpin our economy remain in position.”

Toyota was the market leader for February with a 19 per cent share, followed by Mazda with 10.3 per cent, Hyundai with 8.3 per cent, Mitsubishi (7.4%) and Ford (6.3%).

The Toyota Hilux, which led the market last year, maintained its top-seller position in February with 4,426 sales, followed by the Ford Ranger (3,544 sales), Toyota Corolla (3,270), Mazda3 (2,935) and the Mazda CX-5 (2,191).

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Australia recalls 2.3 million cars

The Australian government has issued a compulsory recall of more 2 million vehicles fitted with defective air bags made by Japanese auto parts maker Takata Corp.

Speaking at a news conference in Canberra, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Michael Sukkar said the recall of 2.3 million vehicles was the “largest and most significant recall in the nation’s history.”

“The compulsory recall will force manufacturers, dealers, importers and other suppliers to ensure that all dangerous Takata airbags are located and replaced as quickly as possible,” Sukkar said.

The assistant minister said that 4 million Australian cars in total had been affected by the defective airbags, or about two in seven cars on the road.

“Tragically there’s been one death and one case of serious injury in Australia as a result of the deployment of these airbags, and the government just doesn’t want to see anymore,” he said.

The motor industry’s peak body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), said the industry would move “heaven and earth” to satisfy the requirements of the compulsory Takata airbag recall announced today by the Federal Government.

“The safety of our customers is our utmost priority,” FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber said.

“That’s why the industry will do its utmost to comply with the conditions set down in the legislation.”

“We already know from the voluntary recall which has been underway for some years that there are a number of significant issues in getting the affected vehicles rectified. These include difficulties contacting the affected customers, constraints imposed by replacement airbag supply and the ability of the networks to process such a huge number of vehicles.”

“However, we know our brands are determined to do their part and have in place strategies to prioritise vehicles and have this recall addressed by 31 December 2020, as determined by the Minister.”

Around 4 million vehicles have been identified as affected by the recall. However, some 1.7 million have already been rectified by the industry under the previous voluntary agreement conducted over a number of years and in full consultation with the Federal government and the ACCC.

A further 859,000 cars were added under the compulsory recall announced today.

Cars on the compulsory recall list include various models that have already been subject to a voluntary recall — Toyota, Mazda, Honda, BMW, Chrysler, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and several others.

“We are calling on the state and territory governments to work with us on this issue, as we know that will deliver the safest outcome. Surely that is what we all want.”

No plans to initiate such a move in New Zealand

While the Australian government has announced a recall, the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) says there are no plans to initiate the same here in New Zealand.

Currently, there are voluntary recalls being undertaken by several different manufacturers in New Zealand. But no reported incidents related to faulty Takata airbags.

The NZTA told Stuff: “The NZ Transport Agency is working with the vehicle industry to ensure that the current voluntary recalls are carried out to a satisfactory level, and that all of the manufacturers involved in the recall are offering the appropriate repair or replacement to vehicle owners.”

In October last year, it was revealed that around 300,000 vehicles in New Zealand were affected by the fault. A Fair Go investigation at the time showed just 60,000 of the 300,000 vehicles in New Zealand had been fixed, prompting numerous media stories about the recall.

Click here to read the NZTA’s most commonly asked questions regarding the recall.

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Industry support for EV initiative

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) praises the South Australian Government’s decision to waive vehicle registration and stamp duty on new electric vehicles (EVs).

The incentive would allow South Australians, who bought a $40,000 EV, to save $2155 over five years in stamp duty and registration. 

The FCAI fully supports the re-election promise offered up by the incumbent Government and challenged other governments to follow suit by offering fiscal incentives to consumers which would encourage the take-up of efficient new vehicle technologies.

Tony Weber, chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

The Chief Executive of the FCAI, Tony Weber, said that while electric vehicles (EVs) were only a part of Australia’s medium-term transport solutions, fiscal encouragement such as that offered by the SA Government can only help in the consumer cost/benefit assessment of their next new vehicle purchase to adopt emerging technologies.

“The industry’s view is that EVs, together with hybrids, hydrogen vehicles and the new generation of more efficient low emission combustion-engined cars, need to be part of the broad make-up of the national new vehicle fleet in the next decade,” Weber said.

“While governments have a significant role to play in encouraging a shift in consumer behaviour, the industry believes in the need for freedom of consumer choice and in market diversity. We don’t intend to favour one vehicle technology over another because we know the huge amount of research being done around the world on future transport technologies.

“There’s some very interesting and highly efficient engine and transport technologies under development globally and it would be imprudent to back one technology when another may, in fact, offer a better solution for Australia’s market and our driving needs and lifestyles.”

Weber also said that a focus of the industry in the immediate term was to work with the Federal government on delivering an emissions and CO2 standard which harmonised with the stricter controls of the EU, together with a new fuel standard and feasible timetable to effect that transition.

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Phoney vehicle parts continue to escalate


Genuine brake pad vs. Asbestos counterfeit brake pad

Counterfeit pads, seized and tested by Mercedes-Benz in Germany have demonstrated grave safety implications for road users.

In emergency stops from 100km/h, vehicles equipped with counterfeit brake pads ploughed through safety cones representing pedestrians and other vehicles, at high speed.

In addition to the counterfeit pads markedly increasing braking distances, they proved dangerously unreliable at speed and in high-use situations.

In conditions simulating high-speed braking and long hill descents, braking effect decreased to levels that could leave motorists unable to slow or stop. The counterfeit’s brake lining also wore through rapidly in standard tests.

These tests are not the first time counterfeit brake pads have been proven a major road hazard. In mid-2017 BMW testing saw counterfeit brake pads smoke and disintegrate during the first quarter of standard wear tests.

In road testing, the fakes added 25 metres to emergency dry braking distances.

Where are the counterfeit brakes coming from?

Over 600,000 illegal counterfeit car parts were seized in various ports over 2016 and 2017, with investigators certain that many shipments were bound for Australia.

Brake pads with artfully forged branding contrived to fit 15 different automotive marques were a common sight among the seized counterfeits.

As recently as January 2018, 10,500 fake automotive parts were seized in Abu Dhabi. Locally, counterfeit brake pads containing asbestos were located and seized by Toyota in 2015.

Director of Nationwide Research Group, Craig Douglas has 25 years’ experience working with Australian automotive brands to investigate counterfeit parts.

According to Douglas, Australian cars are a prime target for counterfeit criminals.

“We know that these inferior parts are being fitted to vehicles locally and without the knowledge or consent of the vehicle owners,” he said.

“We are increasingly seeing dangerous fakes imported into Australia from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other parts of the UAE. We have traced counterfeit dealers in these regions approaching Australian automotive retailers offering to sell them parts they describe as genuine at less than local prices.

“The seized parts represent a minute fraction of the AUD$20 billion global counterfeit syndicates.”

Who are the targets?

“Mechanical workshops are clear targets for these kinds of parts, and we know that these approaches are ongoing. My estimation is that for every eight mechanics that say no to counterfeits, there are two that say yes, mostly because the fakes are so convincingly packaged and disguised,” says Douglas.

“This problem is on the rise and Australian consumers need to be vigilant.”

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries Chief Executive Tony Weber renewed his call for repairers and consumers alike to be more demanding in regards to product quality and authenticity.

“Criminals are profiting from exposing families to high risk. The manufacture and distribution of low-performance, illegally branded brake pads is outrageous. The end user might never find out until it’s too late. A few dollars saved might cost you your life,” Weber said.

“The Chamber and the automotive industry again implore Australians to buy genuine parts from their local dealer because they can be assured they are getting the real deal.”

“And always ask the simple question of your repairer: ‘Will you be using genuine parts to repair my car?’”

Genuine is Best offers a confidential reporting service for drivers seeking to report a suspected counterfeit at www.genuineisbest.com.au/reportacounterfeit

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Strong start for vehicle sales in Australia

Motor vehicle sales across Australia got off to a strong start in 2018 with record breaking sales in January, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries’ (FCAI) latest statistics. 

Total sales for January, including passenger cars, SUVs, light and heavy commercial vehicles totalled 88,551 (up 4.3 per cent) for the month in comparison to January 2017, with significant growth in SUV and Light Commercial segments.

Tony Weber, chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

The Chief Executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Tony Weber, noted the strong sales which reflected the ongoing value in the current market underpinned by significant competition between the many brands available in Australia.

“2017 was a record year for the industry and we’re pleased to see that strength continuing in the January 2018 sales results. Notably there was very strong growth in business sales of SUVs and Light Commercials,” Mr Weber said.

Within January 2018 segments , there were some significant increases in sales compared to the SUV and light commercial segments in January 2017 , with sales of small and medium SUVs up 25.5 per cent and 19.2 per cent respectively.

Similarly, sales of 4X4 Light Commercials were up by 26.6 per cent. Passenger motor vehicles declined by 8.7 per cent compared to January 2017, although passenger vehicles alone still account for a significant 36 per cent of the total market.

The nation’s top five best – selling vehicles in January were the Toyota Hilux (3,860) followed by the Ford Ranger (3,260), the Mazda3 (3,201), Toyota Corolla (2 ,776) and the Mazda CX.

Toyota led the market in January with a 17.3 per cent share, followed by Mazda (11. 4 per cent), Hyundai (8.0), Holden (6.5) and Ford (6.4).

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FCAI supports new tariff plan

FCAI CEO Tony Weber

Tony Weber, chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries

Australia’s top motor industry body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), is showing their support for a reduction in vehicle tariffs, a move that the FCAI says “will give more Australian drivers access to the latest safety technology.”

The FCAI’s Chief Executive Tony Weber described the proposition as providing two significant advantages as it would not only help save lives on our roads by providing cheaper access to safety technology, but also help reduce vehicle emissions and CO2.

“This tariff reduction proposal should be viewed as an investment in safety and technology,” Mr Weber said.

“Currently around 88 per cent of new vehicles are five-star ANCAP safety rated. However, in direct contrast to that, the current average age of the total vehicle fleet on Australia roads is around 10 years.

“Abolishing the new vehicle tariff would pass on thousands of dollars in price cuts at the showroom, which would make more vehicles with advanced safety features such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping assistance more affordable for the average consumer.

“The flow-on effect of this would also benefit our environment because new vehicles produce fewer emissions and CO2.

“The industry is very much encouraged by the Deputy Prime Minister’s comment that this proposal has merit, and we would seek an opportunity to discuss this further with him.”

Mr Weber said that the industry had been vocal for some time about the need to reduce vehicle tariffs and abolish the arbitrary Luxury Car Tax, which distorts the market and does nothing to assist the trickle-down of vehicle safety technology into cheaper cars.

“The latest safety technology on offer by vehicle manufacturers has proven life-saving capabilities. There are a number of key elements to reducing trauma on our roads and the newer cars with features such as automatic lane keeping, warning systems, and fatigue detection, are a vital part of that safety package,” he said.

“With Government intervention through tariff reduction, vehicles can play an even larger role in saving lives on our roads.”

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New vehicle standards bill for Australia

Australia’s main motor industry body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, (FCAI), has welcomed the Federal Government’s release of an exposure draft of the new Road Vehicles Standards Bill.

The new Bill introduces reforms to strengthen the laws around road vehicles when first supplied to the Australian market. This involves clarifying vehicle recall arrangements; developing vehicles with international standards; and providing more choice through streamlining the regulatory pathways through which non-standard vehicles are imported. 

“This new legislation has been a long time coming, but the automotive industry is pleased that the Minister has taken the time to consider what is in the best interests of Australian consumers,” Tony Weber, FCAI Chief Executive said.

“It provides a framework to ensure Australians have access to world quality vehicles with the latest safety and environmental features.”

Mr Weber said that Australia’s new car market was one of the most competitive in the world, with new vehicle prices independently assessed as cheaper than most developed countries.

“This legislation would ensure our vehicles are fit for purpose, built for our market conditions, and underpinned by established consumer support mechanisms,” Mr Weber said.

“Our industry has always welcomed competition because that’s what delivers value for the consumer. This proposed legislation provides a robust structure which also safeguards the interests of the consumer.”

The Australian Automotive Dealer Association also reaffirms the FCAI’s views, “After a thorough consultation process, we believe the Government has developed a balanced, well-considered package of reforms which protects consumers, reduces red tape and allows for an objective scheme to import specialist and enthusiast vehicles,” said AADA Chief Executive Officer, David Blackhall.

“New car franchised dealers conduct all vehicle safety recalls in Australia and we are supportive of the additional clarity this legislation provides in this area,” said Mr Blackhall.

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ACCC report criticises car industry

Tony Weber, chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, (FCAI) has expressed concern regarding the ACCC’s final report into the Australian new car retailing industry.

The FCAI’s Chief Executive Tony Weber said that the report has revealed both a poor understanding of the industry and insufficient evidence to support the claims. This is especially disappointing for the FCAI as the document took around 18 months to develop.

“While the FCAI and motor vehicle companies in Australia are still studying the detail of today’s report, at first blush it appears that the ACCC has taken 18 months to research and understand a complex industry, and failed to properly comprehend it,” Mr Weber said.

“The ACCC’s report appears to be predicated on a very small number of complaints which it uses to tarnish Australia’s $17.5 billion retail motor industry. This is not only unfair, it is inaccurate.”

“To take one example, the ACCC has relied on 85 consumer complaints and 229 small business comments to support its position on mandating unfettered access to service and repair information,” Mr Weber noted.

“By way of comparison, there are some 17 million motor vehicles on Australian roads today, which are predominantly repaired and serviced by the independent repair sector. So how does the ACCC hypothesize that the information isn’t readily available?

“Technical information to service and repair cars is already widely available and the FCAI’s Voluntary Code ensures that car companies will continue to offer the information necessary to service and repair cars available to independent repair sector. However, it appears organisations are seeking ways in which they can leverage car manufacturers’ intellectual property for their own commercial gain by building and selling aftermarket devices.”

Mr Weber noted that the retail new car industry also has been unfairly criticised by the ACCC, when in fact 1.178 million new motor vehicles were sold in Australia last year with overwhelming levels of customer satisfaction. 

“The reality is that as modern motor vehicles become more sophisticated, the independent repair sector needs to continue to adapt and change to ensure it remains relevant and up to date. Independent repairers shouldn’t be able to say they can repair all makes and models when clearly they can’t. Unfortunately, today’s report just smacks of the ACCC looking to support old and failing business models for independent repairers.”

“Car companies take safety, environmental and security information very seriously. Additionally, having security information in the public domain puts a vehicle at much greater risk of being stolen,” Mr Weber said.

The ACCC’s recommendation on information sharing goes against the advice of the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (NMVTRC), which wrote to the ACCC specifically on the matter, stating:

“The current controls over the sharing of this information in Australia has helped deliver the nation low rates of electronic criminal manipulation by world standards and the NMVTRC’s view is that this approach should be maintained.”

“If the ACCC supports mandating the sharing of service and repair information above the already high level of information provided voluntarily by car companies, then the ACCC will own the responsibility for the misuse of that information,” Mr Weber said.

According to figures obtained from the UK Royal Automobile Club (RAC), the number of stolen vehicles in the UK has risen by nearly 30 per cent in the past three years, which is attributable in part to the release of security information.  By comparison, motor vehicle theft rates (all vehicles) in Australia have increased by 1 per cent over the same period.

“The ACCC has cherry-picked information to support its bias. Information provided to the FCAI by the ACCC on a confidential basis of complaints over a two-year period again reinforce the fact that the number of complaints are exceptionally small and most have been addressed by the car companies. Unfortunately, the ACCC has handcuffed us from releasing this information publicly.”






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Aussie car sales dip in September

The Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) reports that three of the growth segments in the Australian new vehicle market continued to rise in September, despite a 2.4 per cent dip in the overall market compared with the same month last year.

The chief executive of the FCAI, Tony Weber, said that while there was a modest sales fall in September, strong activity was recorded across several key segments.

A total of 100,200 new vehicles sales were recorded in Australia last month, a fall of 2.4 per cent compared with September 2016, according to the industry’s official statistical service VFACTS.

“Any month over 100,000 total sales has to be seen as a strong outcome, proving there is continued value for the consumer in the market,” Weber said.

Source: FCAI

Market leader Toyota recorded a 1.07 per cent rise in sales during September for a dominant 17.3 per cent share overall, followed by Mazda with 10.3 per cent, Hyundai with 8.1 per cent, Mitsubishi with 7.1 per cent and Holden with 6.9 per cent.

The Ford Ranger light commercial was Australia’s top-selling vehicle for September with 4,318 sales, followed by the Toyota Hilux with 3,822, Toyota Corolla with 3,055, Mazda3 with 2,776 and Holden Commodore with 2,547.

Utes and cab-chassis 4X4 light commercial vehicles, together with small and medium SUVs were the three growth segments during September. The 4X4 light commercials were up 11 per cent, small SUVs rose 7.9 per cent and medium SUVs increased 3.3 per cent compared with September 2016.

SUV and light commercials remain the two robust areas of the market, accounting for a 58.8 per cent share of total sales year to date, up from 56 per cent in 2016.

The overall market remained 0.2 per cent ahead of last year’s record total on a year to date basis.


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