Best deals on new cars as prices are slashed amid COVID-19

Fewer than 40,000 cars were sold in April – a fall of 48.5 per cent on the same period last year - and the biggest monthly contraction since 1991.

Best deals on new cars as prices are slashed amid COVID-19

Car sales have fallen off a cliff and showrooms are overstocked with prices of new cars slashed to get cash flowing through the door.

Fewer than 40,000 cars were sold in Australia in April – a fall of 48.5 per cent on the same period last year - and the biggest monthly contraction since 1991.

Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA) CEO James Voortman says he hopes sales will start to lift but with economic uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic, dealers remain concerned.

April was also the lowest month in sales outright in almost 30 years and the 25th month in a row of sales declines.

With finance companies making it harder to secure funding and COVID restrictions in place, dealers are overstocked like never before.

June is historically the biggest month for car sales but dealers are still concerned.

Finance managers at dealerships are getting applications knocked back with companies much more risk-averse following the banking royal commission.

Dealers are willing to squeeze their already small margins to secure a sale just to keep some cash coming through the door to cover their hefty overheads.

While it's bad news for showrooms, it's good news for anyone in the market for a new car.

Savings of around $2000 to $3000 will be seen on popular cars while some top end utes could see savings of up to $8000 off the RRP.

The only thing that will keep buyers from seeing unprecedented sales is the falling value of the Australian dollar against key source countries for cars like Japan, Korea, Thailand, the United States and European Union, caradvice.com.au national motoring editor Josh Dowling says.

"If you have cash or access to finance, it is absolutely a buyer's market," he says.

"Dealers are desperate to move metal… the coronavirus has absolutely slammed the brakes on new car sales."

Not all brands have suffered as badly, with Toyota emerging as a clear winner during the downturn.

To kickstart sales, the AADA wants the Federal Government to extend its $150,000 instant asset write-off initiative beyond June 30, a review of taxes on cars and a loosening on funding.

"The luxury car tax should have been abolished some time ago," Mr Voortman said.

He hopes April was rock-bottom and with COVID-19 restrictions easing from Friday, more people will visit showrooms.

The best value deals, according to Josh Dowling from caradvice.com.au

City hatchbacks

Mitsubishi Mirage runout model with automatic transmission - $16,990 drive-away with seven-year warranty.

Suzuki Swift GL automatic with built-in navigation - from $18,690 drive-away with five-year warranty.

Small cars

Hyundai i30 Go hatch automatic - $23,470 drive-away with seven-year warranty

Kia Cerato S hatch or sedan automatic - $23,490 drive-away with seven-year warranty

Small SUVs

Mitsubishi ASX automatic (updated model) - $26,740 drive-away with seven-year warranty

Nissan Qashqai ST automatic (updated model) - $28,990 drive-away with seven-year warranty

Family SUVs

Ford Escape Ambiente automatic (runout model) - $28,990 drive-away with five-year warranty

Nissan X-Trail ST automatic (updated model) - $30,990 drive-away with five-year warranty

Seven-seat SUVs

Toyota Kluger GX 2WD automatic V6 petrol - $41,990 drive-away with five-year warranty

Hyundai Santa Fe 2WD automatic V6 petrol - $42,430 drive-away with five-year warranty

4WD utes

Toyota HiLux SR5 double cab automatic - $53,990 drive-away with five-year warranty

Mitsubishi Triton GLX double cab automatic - $35,990 drive-away with seven-year warranty (once a $1500 discount has been applied)

Tradie utes

Toyota HiLux Workmate 4x2 petrol manual - $24,490 drive-away with five-year warranty

Mitsubishi Triton GLX 4x2 petrol manual - $23,490 drive-away with seven-year warranty (once a $1500 discount has been applied)

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What your train and bus commute may be like in the future (if you can get on)

Heavier traffic, more cyclists and nervous Sydney commuters wary of riding trains and buses which may not even let them on board anyway.

What your train and bus commute may be like in the future (if you can get on)

Heavier traffic, more cyclists and nervous Sydney commuters wary of riding trains and buses which may not even let them on board anyway.

That's what Sydneysiders face as they get back to work, a leading transport policy expert has predicted.

And commuters aren't the only ones wondering about safety, passenger numbers and health risks on the city's trains and buses in the post-coronavirus world.

With state government yet to provide face masks and other detailed plans, bus drivers on almost 30,000 daily trips across the city will be forced to fend for themselves.

"We're likely to have some form of social distancing for a sustained period of time and that is going to have a big impact on travel," Marion Terrill of the Grattan Institute warned.

"We can expect to see a lot fewer passengers on public transport and restrictions on the numbers that can be on a bus or train, and how far they have to sit apart."

It was possible, Ms Terrill told nine.com.au, that restrictions on passenger numbers and seating arrangements would leave people stranded at bus stops and stations, as lines to get on board grew longer.

"It will be very difficult to manage that and I think for that reason a lot of people will find another way so they can get to work so they don't have to face potential delays.

"That will mean a lot more people in cars and people on bikes and walking."

Fewer passenger numbers will hit the NSW public transport purse, Ms Terrill said, impacting improvement of the network in the future.

The NSW Government has yet to unveil plans for how public transport will be managed or what level of passenger capacity will be enforced.

Passenger numbers allowed to travel on trains, trams and buses could be slashed by 80 per cent or more.

It is also unclear how drivers and frontline platform staff will be protected, and whether passengers will be advised or mandated to wear face masks.

The union representing bus and tram drivers told nine.com.au the issue of no face masks for bus drivers was still a concern.

"The union has got to the point where it is investigating sourcing and purchasing its own face masks to ensure that any bus drivers who wants access to a face mask can have one," David Babineau, secretary of the Tram and Bus Division of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW, said.

Mr Babineau said current government advice was that bus and tram drivers "would not necessarily benefit" from masks and other protective items.

However, Shadow Transport Minister Chris Minns said face masks should be available for all drivers.

"That is a minimum," he said.

"The government has had two months to source an adequate supply of face masks for employees. We're concerned that hasn't happened."

When contacted, a Transport for NSW spokesperson declined to comment about masks for drivers and employees.

"A range of initiatives are being considered and detailed plans for the public transport network will be outlined during the week," the spokesperson said.

A cleaner at work at the Waverley Bus Depot in Sydney. NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the equivalent of 3000 full-time cleaners would be working by the end of June in an effort to help combat COVID-19 in New South Wales

Mr Minns suggested passengers on buses should enter and exit from the rear door to ensure drivers are protected.

He was "open" to commuters told to wear face masks by the government, like in London, Germany and some Asian cities.

Hand sanitiser stations were crucial for public safety, he said. Temperature checks were also a possibility.

Bus, train and tram services across Sydney are currently operating with usual frequency.

"It's crucial that services aren't cut because when people do return to work they will start overcrowding on public transport," Mr Minns said.

The shadow transport minister was not concerned about the medium and long-term financial consequence of heavily reduced passenger numbers since March and for the foreseeable future.

The fare box only accounted for around 20 per cent of the annual public transport purse, he said.

But additional cleaning and sanitising of trains, buses and the entire public transport network will be a financial burden.

Extra staff will likely be needed to enforce any restrictions on capacity and social distancing, to keep people safe, Ms Terrill said.

That would put "even more cost pressure" on a service operating at massively reduced efficiency.

"People won't resume riding on public transport or going into crowded spaces until they feel safe."

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said she was currently working with state government to find streets that could be temporarily adapted to provide more space for people walking and riding.

"We have long advocated for widening of footpaths in the city centre," she said.

"These spaces were overcrowded prior to the pandemic, and the need for more pedestrian space will be heightened as people attempt to maintain physical distancing."

Potential strategies to improve the walkability of Sydney included 30km/h speed zones, shorter wait times for pedestrians at traffic signals and temporary changes to street layouts using lane dividers, she said.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson acknowledged that "as restrictions are eased and people travel more, we need to ensure social distancing can be maintained".

"We encourage people to continue to work from home where you can do so."

Contact me: msaunoko@nine.com.au

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