Australians falling out of love with small cars and petrol engines

The mainstays of the Aussie car market have taken a hit in the last year as car buying intentions cut a path away from the norm.

Both small cars and petrol engines took a substantial hit in the last half of 2018, according to data provided by Roy Morgan Research, suggesting that the two categories are losing their traditional dominance.

From June to December last year, the number of people intending to buy a small car declined by a smidgeon under 200,000—a fall of 34 percent. This category usually attracts the highest share of intention, Rob Heneghan, automotive account director at the market researcher, told The Motor Report.

At the same time, the market is showing a marked increase in interest in engine alternatives, with just 62 percent of buyers now looking to buy a petrol car in the next four years. This compares to the 75 percent of vehicles sold last year that run on unleaded.

“New car intention tends to skew older, with the majority of intenders being aged over 35,” said Heneghan. “But young intenders aged 14-34, who often have lower incomes and fewer children to ferry around, still like their small cars.”

The growth of ride-sharing apps and sustainable living might be having a growing influence on the decline of the small car segment, especially among Millennials.

Three-quarters of compact car buyers live in state capitals, where ride-share services like Uber and public transport are more readily available.

“Putting off a new car purchase would conceivably be less of an inconvenience for city-dwellers, who have alternative transport options, than people who live in the country,” Heneghan said.

As expected, environmentally conscious Millennials who intend to purchase a vehicle in the next four years have the highest preference for hybrid of all generations—though less anticipated is their approval of oil burners.

Four in 10 said they will opt for diesel last year, against a declining market average for the format brought about by emissions scandals and new health concerns. This number is twice as high as the closest generation, Gen X.

Interestingly, it looks like the market for electric and hybrid cars may be set for a boom with over 10 percent of new car buyers signalling their intent to go green in the next four years, compared to the current sales level of just 1 percent.

Extracted from The Motor Report

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