One extraordinary weather event almost 12 months ago handed Canberra's new car market such a huge retail boost that the ACT was the only state or territory to finish the 2020 calendar year with a positive result.
New car retail data released on Wednesday for 2020 revealed Australia's national sales plunged to their lowest annual level of demand in 17 years, with the ACT being the only state or territory to post a gain over 2019.
The ACT's new car retail sales for 2020 were 22.6 per cent up on 2019, against a national sales decline of 13.7 per cent.
Canberra's sales boost was largely a result of last year's intense January 20 hailstorm which swept in from the north through Belconnen, across the Acton Peninsula, into Parkes and Barton, and on through the car yards of Fyshwick, leaving pocked and peppered panels and smashed glass in its wake.
The artificial sales stimulus resulting from the storm cell's 30-minute march across the territory continued in the ACT for some 10 months.
More than 9000 cars were damaged across the ACT and region, setting in train a rapid commercial response from insurance companies specialist fast-track hail assessment teams and equipment arrived from interstate to help cope with the enormous throughput in vehicles.
The ACT government paid out $507,000 in rebates on registration and other charges on 7606 vehicles as Canberrans rushed to have their damaged cars assessed, written off by assessors and payouts issued to fund another purchase. Demand for government services to process new vehicle registrations rose by 128 per cent.
However, the ACT's 2020 big gain was in direct contrast with elsewhere around the country. Among results from the biggest new vehicle markets, NSW recorded an 11.1 per cent annual sales decline, Queensland's fell 8.9 per cent and Victoria, with 15 weeks of almost zero showroom traffic during COVID lockdown, down a business-crushing 25.6 per cent, the worst in Australia.
Toyota again dominated the national market with a 22.3 per cent share of all new vehicle sales in 2020.
However, in the ACT, Toyota's leadership was not as commanding at 16.4 per cent. In Canberra, second-placed Mazda finished the year better than its national performance with 11.5 per cent of the market.
Other franchises that excelled in Canberra were Volkswagen, Subaru and Hyundai.
The Toyota Hilux was Australia's best-selling commercial vehicle and best-seller overall - but not in Canberra.
The ACT's biggest-seller for 2020 was the Toyota Corolla with 722 sales, followed by the Toyota RAV4 with 707, the Hyundai i30 (617 sales), VW Golf (544) and Ford Ranger 4WD (532).
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