In Australia, $78.4bn is spent on cars every year, compared to $2.2bn on public transport. A number of trends are in evidence.
Cars are becoming more fuel efficient since petrol prices stubbornly refuse to fall. The Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla and Holden Cruze all sell well.
The Subaru Liberty is one of the most fuel efficient petrol engine medium-sized cars available. Diesel vehicles are becoming more attractive now that they are cleaner, quieter and more efficient.
Brad Wielstra, the Sales Manager for one car dealer, said, “Fuel efficiency is becoming a more frequently asked question.” Years ago, he remarked, people purchased large cars because they were safer, but small cars are now just as safe.
In 2011, 46,980 passenger and light commercial (PLC) vehicles were stolen in Australia, more than the year before. A car is stolen every ten minutes.
Thefts can be for short-term use, such as joyriding, or profit, with the former category comprising 71 percent of cases. The cars most often stolen for short-term benefit were the Hyundai Excel X3 and Holden Commodore VN and VT. The cars most frequently stolen for profit were the Holden Commodore VT, VS and VW.
Most short-term thefts take place between 8pm and midnight with peaks on Fridays and Saturdays. Vehicles stolen for profit are usually not recovered because they are rebirthed or stripped for parts. The number of cars stolen from outside homes has increased significantly in the last three years, and now represents nearly half of thefts. The doors of 20 percent of stolen cars were unlocked. The contents of a car can provoke theft, with the most-stolen items including work tools, sunglasses, smart phones and audio equipment.
70 percent of cars are fitted with an immobiliser, with this feature being standard in the Volkswagen Up. It’s possible to purchase a used Volkswagen Up at carsales. Given the prevalence of immobilisers, thieves break into homes. Ray Carroll, the executive director of the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council, said, ”Nine times out of 10 the keys will be sitting on top of someone’s fridge or in the fruit bowl, then you can just drive away.”
When it comes to colour, Ford customers in the United States prefer the classic core colours of black, white, grey and silver. French and Italian motorists are keen on cream-coloured vehicles. The Irish gravitate to silver. In Denmark, black is preferred, while in Belgium the choice is grey. Almost half the vehicles sold in Turkey are white. Australians are sportier, living as they do a more active lifestyle, and they choose blue and intense citrus colours while prestige buyers choose richer metallics.
Emily Lai, Ford’s Colour and Materials Design Manager for Australia, said the country’s climate was bright and rich, which produced an intensely coloured landscape. She added that with Australia’s economy being healthy, people were more able to keep abreast of fashion. In Sydney and Melbourne, people prefer sporty colours and sophisticated metallics, while in the tropical north, customers choose lighter colours that reflect heat and provide a psychological perception of cool. Government and fleets prefer the more traditional colours of white, silver and blue.
In 2012, there were 94 fatalities involving cars on the roads of Australia, with the number falling for some years. 67 percent occurred on rural roads. 77 percent of the victims were male. 30 percent of people who died were not wearing a seatbelt, a point emphasised by the crash that killed Princess Diana: the three people who died weren’t wearing seatbelts, but the sole survivor was. 40 percent of fatal crashes involved alcohol or drugs. In 27 percent of cases, a car was speeding or otherwise driving dangerously.
Anyone wishing to follow the trends will buy a fuel efficient, small, citrus-coloured vehicle with an immobiliser. To avoid theft, keep the doors locked, don’t leave enticing items on display, don’t own a Hyundai Excel X3 or a Holden Commodore and don’t leave your keys in an obvious place. To avoid becoming a fatality statistic, wear a seatbelt and don’t drink and drive.