Luxury car dealers in Melbourne enjoyed an unnaturally stellar June following a soft year as car buyers race to buy before new taxes come into effect on Monday. Today is officially the last chance Victorian car buyers can avoid a potentially significant rise in the on-road cost of registering their cars thanks to a surprise new State Government tax announced in May’s State Budget.
Car dealers, already suffering from lackluster sales in light of Federal Election distractions and economic uncertainty, have had to manage customer frustration particularly among those who’ll face the unexpected cost on cars ordered, in some cases, months ago. There’s been “a mad panic this month” in the Melbourne showrooms of high-end car dealers as customers sought to beat the tax, according to Bobby Zagame, managing director of one of Victoria’s most prestigious automotive retailing businesses, the Zagame Group.
“It’s brought forward a lot of people,” Zagame says, saying brands such as Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Ferrari and Aston Martin have seen a particularly large uptick in sales. “It’s been great, but it’s only one month in a year,” he says. “The next three months are going to be tough.”
An AADA spokesman says after in weighing up the costs of legal action, the organisation is likely to take more of “an advocacy approach” to the issue by commissioning research on the new tax and its application to determine its likely effect on sales. Zagame described the move as a “straight money grab” from a soft target. “With [Victorian] infrastructure-cost blowouts and revenue down from property stamp duty, they have to find the money somewhere,” he says.