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Australian cars are cheap, industry lobby says

Price wars: The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries says Australian buyers save more than $12,000 on the price of a Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG compared with the same hot hatch sold on the British market.

Report claims Australians gain bigger bargains than Brit, NZ buyers

General News logo4 Aug 2014

By BARRY PARK

AUSTRALIA’S new-car industry has hit out against claims that imported vehicles sold here are more expensive than their equivalents sold overseas.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has released a report it claims settles the debate that Australians pay too much for their vehicles compared with one of the world’s largest right-hand-drive markets, with buyers here saving up to more than $12,000 compared with Britain.

The results are based on a “like-for-like” research report prepared for the FCAI by car industry consultancy IHS Automotive.

According to the FCAI data, the biggest saving for Australian buyers compared with their British counterparts comes in the form of a Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG, which sells here for the equivalent of $74,900, with Brits having to hand over the equivalent of $87,156 for a similarly kitted-out car – a $12,256 saving.

A low-end Ford Focus Trend hatch, meanwhile, costs $22,290 here, but in Britain, buyers hand over the equivalent of $32,325 for an equivalent car.

“Together, our research shows that for the vast majority of the Australian new car market, a model of like specifications is cheaper in Australia than it is in the United Kingdom or New Zealand,” FCAI chief executive Tony Weber said.

“This is great news for Australian consumers, especially when you also consider the ongoing benefits included in the cost of buying a new car in Australia,” he said. This included support such as servicing, and services specifically for Australia such as sat-nav maps, more robust air-conditioning systems and beefed-up towing capacities.

Mr Weber said competition in the Australian market – there are about 67 brands here selling more than 350 independent models – also meant manufacturers were continuously working to improve safety, security and environmental features, along with other features that Australian consumers’ demand.

“This competition means that Australians are getting world-class cars at globally-competitive prices,” he said.

The IHS Automotive analysis bases its assessment on manufacturer list price and strips away local price factors such as taxes, which vary between markets.

Not everything tipped in Australia’s favour. Some examples where Australian buyers had to shell out a bit more than British buyers included a $69,400 BMW 328i which is almost $600 more expensive here. We we pay more than $3000 more for our $49,995 Range Rover Evoque eD4 Pure and more than $7000 extra for our $110,688 Range Rover Sport SDV6 HSE.

The data also shows we pay about $4000 over the odds for a $60,900 Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Other vehicles surveyed showing savings for Australian buyers include the $23,792 Mazda3 Neo hatch ($7613 cheaper), $23,540 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport hatch ($710 cheaper), the $59,900 Audi A4 2.0 TFSI Quattro, $35,600 A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSI and $62,600 Q5 2.0 TDI (up to about $2000 cheaper), and Mercedes-Benz’s $35,600 A180 (almost $7000 cheaper) and $92,303 ML350 CDI (more than $8000 cheaper).

According to the FCAI, while it was unable to check the numbers for every one of the 350 cars sold in Australia, it estimated that “around 99 percent” of the cars would be cheaper here than in other markets.

The FCAI also provided data on the price of cars sold in New Zealand as another pricing benchmark.

It found that our cousins across the ditch pay about $12,600 more on the drive-away price of a BMW 328i, more than $11,700 more for a Ford Focus Trend hatch, more than $10,300 more for a Mazda3 Neo hatch, $10,000 more for a Mercedes-Benz C200 sedan, and almost $14,000 more for a Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport hatch.

The FCAI said it produced the report on behalf of the Australian and overseas car companies it represented.

“In this capacity, we have become aware that this (relative pricing) information was not readily available and there is a misconception in some parts of the community that cars are cheaper and of higher specification level or quality overseas than in Australia,” it said.

“The FCAI is undertaking further research to include other models in the top 10 sellers in Australia. This will be released in due course.” It said it would also look at broadening the study to look at comparative pricing and equipment levels in other major markets.

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