COVID-19 has led to bumper car sales with everyone buying a ute and escaping to the country.

New data from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries flagged that new vehicle sales totalled 110,664 units in June – a two year high.

Passenger car sales in June were down 6.7% over the year with sports utility vehicles up 3.5% and light and heavy commercial vehicles 0.8% higher.

In the 12 months to June, sales totalled 1,042,021 which is an increase of 9.6% on a year ago.

Utes fill top three sales spots 

CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman said that Millennials and Gen-Zers were supposed to be catching public transport and ride sharing with Uber and Ola and Didi – but then along came Covid.

“A recent survey by accounting giant EY of 3,300 consumers in nine countries found that 32% of non-car owners intended to buy a car in the next six months, with about half of those prospective buyers Millennials,” he said.

“Supported by the government’s instant asset write-off scheme, the building boom and heightened recreational use during the pandemic, utes filled the top three sales spots in June for only the second time in Aussie automotive history.

“Ford legend Dick Johnson will be pleased with record sales of the Ford Ranger marking the strongest overall sales of the Blue Oval brand in four years, with the Toyota HiLux and the Isuzu D-Max both on the podium.”

Aussie car dealer margins hold steady

Felsman said car dealer margins remain solid, supported by strong consumer demand, despite supply challenges.

“ASX listed car dealership Eagers Automotive was the tenth strongest performing company on the S&P/ASX200 index last financial year,” he said.

“Over the year to June 2021, Eagers’ shares rose by a whopping 149.7% with shares of motor vehicle accessories company ARB Corp. 145.9% higher and automotive parts company Bapcor’s shares up by 47.9%.”

Eagers Automotive (ASX:APE)

Eagers is up 120% for the year and is on firm financial footing with consolidated revenue from continuing operations at $8.7 billion and net profits after tax of $156.2 million.

CEO Keith Thornton attributed part of the strong performance to the company’s merger with Automotive Holdings Group last year, and changes in consumer behaviour.

“The behaviour of our customers evolved as society adjusted to new work/life patterns, closed international borders and the ongoing threat of snap lockdowns,” he said.

The company is now focused on its independent used car operations through the EasyAuto123 platform supported by its national auction business.

Autosports Group Limited (ASX:ASG)

ASG is up 101% for the year and puts this down to the new car market growing 37.5% from January to May 2021.

Expected total FY21 revenue is between $1.92-$1.96 billion, an increase of 13-15% on FY20.

The company flagged normalised net profit before Tax (NPBT) of between $68-$70 million — a massive increase of 199%-203% from FY20.

Plus, last week the company announced its plans to acquire an 80% interest in John Newell Mazda, Alexandria (NSW), which offers new and used vehicle sales, servicing, finance and insurance, parts sales and fleet services – and a hefty revenue of around $89.9 million.

Motorcycle Holdings Limited (ASX:MTO)

Cars aren’t the only vehicle sales booming, MTO is up 55% with new motorcycle unit sales were up 51 per cent for the first three months of 2021.

And demand for new and used bikes isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

The company expects to report underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (underlying EBITDA) between $42-45 million for the period ended 30 June 2021.

Carsales.com (ASX:CAR)

Beyond physical car dealerships, platforms like Carsales.com are also benefitting from the boom.

Group CEO Cameron McIntyre said the company saw traffic grow 20% across its global network of automotive websites last year and confirms this “buoyant activity” has continued into 2021.

“There are positive trends for our business emerging from the pandemic,” he said.

“We have seen accelerated migration to digital platforms across our global network of sites as evidenced by strong traffic growth.

“Demand for vehicles across all our markets has been strong due to lower public transport usage, the absence of international travel and the evolution of more flexible working arrangements.

In 2021 so far, the company said private listing volumes have recovered to pre-Covid levels.

Peter Warren Automotive Holdings Limited (ASX:PWR)

PWR is looking strong too, with expected pro-forma profits before tax (PBT) for the year ended 30 June 2021 of between $54-$57 million – up from previous forecasts of around $45 million.