In summary, new car manufacturers and importers in Australia self-report their monthly retail sales figures to industry group the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI). This aggregated reporting is commonly known as VFACTS and is used to see what types of vehicles are being bought, trends, and brand volumes.
Current data, as compiled by our insights team for motoring.com.au
Now, the long version (via Ken Gratton, editor of motoring.com.au and carsales)
Sales statistics would be meaningless without a market framework to provide context. It has long been said that Aussies will bet on two flies crawling up a wall.
Wherever there's a hint of competition, we'll be in it like a shot. Whether it's a federal government election, the top 40 music charts or the footy league ladder, we want to know how our side is faring in the rough-and-tumble of daily life.
VFACTS provides that sort of information for the automotive industry.
Established in 1992 by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), VFACTS breaks down monthly sales statistics to reveal how new cars are selling, by brand and by model. Members of the FCAI – principally the car companies operating in Australia – and those willing to pay can receive information compiled down to a granular level.
VFACTS information in the public domain typically reports the overall performance of a model range, but the data you have to buy will also tell you which individual player scored the most runs. Translated to the automotive industry context, that level of detail will tell the car companies' product planners – the people who decide on price and specification for a new car sold in Australia – whether the diesel automatic is more highly prized in the market than a turbocharged petrol variant with manual transmission.
But for most of us, VFACTS breaks down to just model level. You won't find out, for instance, whether the base model Ford Falcon is being outsold by the XR6 unless a car company executive tells you as much.
Here's basically how it works: All the distributors and local factories pool their respective sales information at the end of each month. The data is collated by a company appointed by the FCAI – currently IHS Automotive in Melbourne. A full report, with a media release supplied by the FCAI is issued three working days after the end of the reporting month. So information concerning December 2015 became available on the third working day of January 2016, which was January 6.
The complete VFACTS report released each month by the FCAI uses an abbreviation, YTD (year to date) to qualify the sales figures for the year up to the end of that particular month. Sales figures are supplied in a tabular format, with monthly or yearly (YTD) numbers printed alongside the corresponding figure for the previous year.
In July 2015, for example, the Toyota Corolla had pulled well ahead of the Mazda3 and was over 2000 units in front, but VFACTS figures revealed that for the same period in 2014 – ie: from January through to July 2014, inclusive – the Mazda was only 21 sales in arrears of the Corolla.