Prestige Cars Are Trending

It appears the “C” in Mercedes-Benz C class sedan stands for “common”: There are more of those being sold this year than Ford Falcons. That says as much about the decrease of the Aussie household car as the growth of Mercedes’ Car of the Year, but Mercedes overall has dropped any claim of becoming an exclusive brand. More Berlin taxis than Hondas are being pushed from our showrooms.

Accelerating: New Porsche 911s currently sell in larger numbers than the Volkswagen Beetle that initially spawned it. It is not just Mercedes. Australian earnings of the obvious German rivals, BMW and Audi, are flourishing, too. That’s partly thanks to cheaper entry-level versions, but also to lower interest rates and gas prices boosting an extraordinary willingness to splurge on expensive new cars when buyers should lack confidence and the market is soft. It will come to a problem building in that for many buyers — and a chance for people more patient — but first marvel at our newfound indulgence in flashy metal. C-class versions like Mercedes-Benz’s C200 with leather car seats are now more commonly bought than much humbler vehicles like the Toyota Aurion or Ford Falcon.

Mercedes passenger car sales in the first third of this year are up by 21 percent, BMW 16 percent, Audi 14. Total Mercedes vehicle sales, such as SUVs and vans, were 11,474 units, up 23 percent. But that type of revenue growth is stuck in the slow lane compared with the supercars parading it down the middle line. The fastest growing part of the Australian vehicle market is “sports cars over $200,000”. Traders sold 527 vehicles in this class, 30 percent over last year.The breakdown of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries figures For the first four weeks of this year confirm new vehicle sales are going gangbusters, on track for a record high — and that is before any rush for affordable utes pre-June 30. Who cares about utes though when the priciest cars are growing fastest? In the first four weeks, Lamborghini earnings were up 820 percent to 46 units. Ferrari earnings, 64 of these, were up 107 percent. Maserati sales quadrupled to 177.

Porsche 911s are a bit pedestrian in this business, but April was a fantastic month for them as 43 were marketed, taking the year-to-date total to 148 — up a modest 7 percent. While 911 sales growth was not speedy, Porsche total sold 1293 of its V-dubs-on-steroids, 62 percent over this time last year. As an exclusivity step, fresh Porsche 911s this season are more prevalent than new VW Beetles (78 sold) and Golf cabriolets (114). By stark contrast, there were 2029 Falcons purchased in the first four weeks and only 956 Aurions.

Sales of all Mercedes passenger Cars were up 21 percent to 8126. Sales of all Ford passenger cars were down 41 percent to 7022. The three-pointed celebrity is leaving the blue oval in the dust. Sales of all locally manufactured vehicles were down 9 percent to 28,995 — just 8 percent of their 359,250 total sales. If the industry defeats the 2013 sales record of 1.136 million, Australians will have bought almost 5.5 million new vehicles in five years — rather amazing for a mature market with a population that averaged about 23 million people during this period. This is a tempting time to be a fan of cool and prestige cars. As a result of rental deals, low interest rates, and low gas prices, it has gotten dangerously easy to push off the dealer lot with a brand new luxury car. Buying a used car is almost always a better deal over the long run than buying or leasing a new one. That’s the traditional personal finance information, and it still applies. But lately the irresponsible option has gotten much more enticing.

The looming problem for buyers of new wheels however is that the greater depreciation that will include a more crowded used-car market in three years’ time once the leases on several vehicles will hit the balloon. That’s the additional cost of buying a new car — the Eye-watering drop in worth the moment the rubber meets the road. The scarcity value of luxury models has padded some of the pain, but it seems like they will not be so rare along Parramatta street come 2018. Which is where opportunity knocks for the more individual. However tempting that new thoroughbred might seem these days, it might be a deal if you wait a little while.

The rise in luxury car sales and 4wd accessories is all the more remarkable because overall passenger car sales are moving backward — the general growth is in SUVs with steel bull bars contains a smaller contribution from light commercials. Passenger car sales were down 10.3 percent last month and are off 4.4 percent for the year so far with personal, business, government and leasing sectors all negative. SUV sales were up 17 percent for the month and 15.7 this season. In the first third of this past year, car sales of 171,344 directed SUVs by 63,442 units. This year, the gap has shrunk to 38,889 with 124,885 SUVs sold.

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