Motor Vehicle Sales

Monthly Statistical Bulletin Feature Articles

Chapter 4 of this issue of MESI contains information on new motor vehicles sales (NMVS) for the first time. These sales figures replace the discontinued Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) new motor vehicle registrations (NMVR) data.


NMVR figures have been used as an indicator of economic activity and are seen as a proxy for new motor vehicle sales.

These registration figures are readily available from each motor vehicle registry in Australia, where they are produced as a by-product of the registration process; ABS has been collecting and publishing these figures on a monthly basis since the early 1950s.

Motor Vehicle Sales

From 1992, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has compiled and published monthly sales data from its VFACTS collection.

VFACTS data is based upon the retail sales of all FCAI member companies and these numbers are used by the industry for supply and marketing purposes.

Sales or Registrations?

Registrations data have been provided as a proxy for sales data. However, if sales data were available it would seem more appropriate to publish them.

ABS compared its total registrations data with the total sales information from VFACTS and found that both sets of information tracked each other very closely at the national level. Since the sale and registration of a new vehicle usually occurs in the same month this is not an unexpected outcome.

With VFACTS data considered by ABS to be

  • of assured quality, through FCAI members pressure
  • reliable
  • accurate, with almost 100% coverage of the industry and with revisions to published data needed only rarely
  • more timely than the registrations data because of daily electronic feeds from data suppliers
  • assured of future supply of data, and
  • of sufficient length to enable seasonally adjusted and trend series to be produced as well

ABS decided that providing NMVR data was unnecessary duplication and discontinued its NMVR collection after the release of December 2001 statistics.

The NMVS figures will be published monthly by ABS commencing with the January 2002 figures and with series back to January 1994. The NMVS data will only be available electronically.

Passenger Motor vehicle graph

Monthly Economic and Social Indicators Table 4.2

Table 4.2, on page 16, tabulates monthly, seasonally adjusted sales of new passenger motor vehicles, along with annual totals, as well as annual percentage changes for data from 1997-98.

Passenger motor vehicles are those designed primarily for the carriage of people and include cars, station wagons and people movers. Sales of passenger vehicles do not include four-wheel drive passenger vehicles and, therefore, are not directly comparable with the ABS registrations data.

The graph below shows the difference in annual levels between the passenger vehicle sales and registrations series for the last seven financial years.

This feature was prepared by Stephen Barber.