Australia’s new car market declined for the second year in succession in 2019, with 1,062,887 sales for the year a 7.8 per cent drop on 2018 numbers and the lowest annual total since 2011.
Data released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) in January shows that most market segments were down on 2018 numbers, which the FCAI’s chief executive, Tony Weber, says is due to several factors.
“2019 reflects a tough year for the Australian economy, with challenges including tightening of lending, movements in exchange rates, slow wages growth and, of course, the extreme environmental factors our country is experiencing.”
Kia defies downward trend
In terms of the major automotive brands, the top ten all saw reduced sales in 2019, with the exception of Kia, who posted a 4.6 per cent increase for the year.
Toyota retained the mantle of our top-selling brand for the 17th successive year, albeit on reduced volumes (-5.2 per cent), but other brands experienced sharper falls.
Mazda sales fell by 12.3 per cent, but the brand still managed to retain second place, ahead of Hyundai, whose total for 2019 was down 8.6 per cent.
Mitsubishi was Australia’s fourth-best-selling brand in 2019, with 83,250 a sales decrease of only 2 per cent, while Ford was next best with 63,303 (-8.4 per cent), ahead of Kia.
Behind Kia, the battle of the brands’ top ten was much closer, with Nissan (50,575 – 12.3 per cent), Volkswagen (49,928 -11.8 per cent), Honda (43,868 -14.9 per cent) and Holden (43,176 -28.9 per cent) all close to each other’s totals.
Both Ford and Holden are suffering in the wake of their Australian manufacturing operations closing, with Ford’s sales at 1968 levels and Holden’s annual total their lowest since 1954. Ford have a bright spot in the Ranger, which accounts for almost two thirds of their sales in Australia, but Holden hasn’t been able to make the same impact with the Colorado.
Most other brands with a strong SUV lineup also saw reversals on 2018 numbers, including Jeep (5,519 –24.7 per cent), Isuzu Ute (25,311 -8.4 per cent), Subaru (40,007 -20 per cent), Land Rover (8,879 -12 per cent), Audi (15,708 -19.1 per cent) and Mercedes-Benz (38,604 -2.4 per cent).
Positives included increases for Great Wall (1,401 +78.7 per cent), LDV (6,480 +6.9 per cent), Lexus (9,612 +9 per cent), BMW (23,307 +1.1 per cent), Volvo (7,779 +16.2 per cent) and Skoda (7,001 +20.6 per cent).
The biggest improvements in predominately 4x4/SUV brands were recorded by Haval, MG and RAM Trucks. Haval sales of 1,706 were a 169.5 per cent increase on 2018 numbers, MG sales of 8,326 were up 176.9 per cent, while RAM sales of 2,868 were a 296.7 per cent increase on 2018.
2019 TOP 10 BRANDS
- Toyota 205,766 (-5.2%)
- Mazda 97,619 (-12.3%)
- Hyundai 86,104 (-8.6%)
- Mitsubishi 83,250 (-2.0%)
- Ford 63,303 (-8.4%)
- Kia 61,503 (+4.6%)
- Nissan 50,575 (-12.3%)
- Volkswagen 49,928 (-11.8%)
- Honda 43,868 (-14.9%)
- Holden 43,176 (-28.9%)
4x4 Utes still lead the way
The pickup/cab chassis segment that has produced our top selling vehicle – the Toyota HiLux - for the previous three years continued to do so again in 2019.
Combined sales of 4x2 and 4x4 HiLux variants mirrored the overall market decline, though: down 7.8 per cent on 2018 figures.
Separating the 4x2 and 4x4 sales, Ford’s Ranger 4x4 actually outsold the HiLux 4x4 for the first time last year, but stronger 4x2 sales gave HiLux the overall advantage.
The Ranger retained its Number 2 slot in the overall top ten, with the Mitsubishi Triton improving on 2018’s seventh place to move up to fifth overall. Our next-best-selling ute was the Holden Colorado with 17,514 sales (15th overall), followed by the Isuzu D-Max (16,892), Nissan Navara (13,412) and Mazda BT-50 (11,357), while the Toyota LandCruiser (9,222) continues to be an industry favourite. All these model totals were down on 2018 figures, though.
Ute models that did see growth in 2019 include the LDV T60 and Great Wall Steed, as well as the Ssangyong Musso, which was relaunched in Australia late last year. LDV T60 sales were up by 10.5 per cent, while Great Wall Steed sales increased by 174 per cent, albeit on a small overall volume of 1,401 units for the year. It’s early days for the new Ssangyong Musso, but 545 sales in 2019 is an encouraging return.
Despite rumours of its imminent demise, sales of the Mercedes-Benz X-Class increased last year, too, with 2,126 sold here, but sales of the pricey G-Wagen cab chassis plummeted from 122 in 2018 to just 26.
Of the RAM Truck range, the 1500 Laramie was the top seller with 1,589, followed by the V8 petrol-engined 1500 Express with 1,020.
The RAM’s rival, Chevrolet’s Silverado, isn’t listed in the FCAI data, which points to HSV not being an FCAI member.
2019 TOP 10 UTES (combined 4x2 and 4x4 sales)
- Toyota HiLux – 47,649
- Ford Ranger – 40,690
- Mitsubishi Triton – 25,819
- Holden Colorado – 17,472
- Isuzu D-MAX – 16,892
- Nissan Navara – 13,412
- Mazda BT-50 - 11,357
- Toyota LandCruiser – 9,222
- Volkswagen Amarok – 8,371
- LDV T60 – 3,529
SUV segment growth
Like all the other market segments, SUV sales were also down in 2019, but despite a 2.4 per cent fall, this segment still managed to increase its share of the total new car market increase to 45.5 per cent – up from 43 per cent in 2018 – thanks to a falling passenger car segment.
Of the top ten selling models overall in 2019, three were SUVs, which increases to nine if you extend out to the top twenty.
Those SUVs in the top ten included the Mazda CX-5 (25,539), Toyota RAV4 (24,260) and Mitsubishi ASX (20,806).
In the Medium SUV Under $60K category that accounts for the bulk of SUV sales in Australia, the segment overall was down 1.8 per cent, with the best sellers behind the CX-5 and RAV4 being the Nissan X-Trail (19,726), Hyundai Tucson (18,251), Mitsubishi Outlander (17,514) and Subaru Forester (15,096).
In the Small SUV Under $40K category, sales actually increased by a slim 0.1 per cent, with the evergreen Mitsubishi ASX still the dominant model in this category. Mazda CX-3 sales of 14,813 were down 9.1 per cent on 2019, but Hyundai Kona sales of 13,342 were up by 8.0 per cent, while Hyundai’s new Venue compact SUV debuted with 1,245 sales following its mid-2019 introduction.
Small SUV Over $40K sales were down by 0.1 per cent, with Volvo’s XC40 the top seller in this category with 2,858 sales, while in the Medium SUV Over $60K category, sales were also down marginally – 0.5 per cent – with the Mercedes GLC the top seller with 5,770.
The Large SUV Under $70K category was down 8.9 per cent, with the best seller in this class being the Toyota Prado again, while the Large SUV Over $70K category saw sales down by 0.5 per cent, with the BMW X5 on top with 3,498 sales.
The Upper Large SUV Under $100K is a two-horse race between Nissan’s Patrol and the Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series, with honours clearly going to the Toyota – 13,802 to 1,951 – in a segment that increased 5.5 per cent on 2018’s numbers.
The biggest movement in 2019, though, was in the Upper Large SUV Over $100K category, which increased by 37.5 per cent. This was due in part to super-luxury SUVs from Bentley, Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce, but more familiar models like BMW’s X7 and the Audi Q8 accounted for the bulk of the 2,819 vehicles sold in this category. Of those ultra-premium brands, 77 units of the Lamborghini Urus were sold, Bentley sold 71 Bentaygas and 19 Rolls-Royce Cullinans found Aussie buyers last year.
2019 SUV TOP SELLERS – by Category
Small SUV Under $40K
- Mitsubishi ASX – 20,806
- Mazda CX-3 – 14,813
- Hyundai Kona – 13,342
Small SUV Over $40K
- Volvo XC40 – 2,858
- BMW X1 – 2,847
- Mercedes-Benz GLA – 2,562
Medium SUV Under $60K
- Mazda CX-5 – 25,539
- Toyota RAV4 – 24,260
- Nissan X-Trail – 19,726
Medium SUV Over $60K
- Mercedes-Benz GLC – 5,770
- BMW X3 – 4,583
- Audi Q5 – 4,152
Large SUV Under $70K
- Toyota Prado – 18,335
- Toyota Kluger – 11,371
- Isuzu MU-X – 8,419
Large SUV Over $70K
- BMW X5 – 3,498
- Range Rover Sport – 2,202
- Mercedes-Benz GLE – 2,081
Upper Large SUV Under $100K
- Toyota LandCruiser – 13,802
- Nissan Patrol – 1,951
Upper Large SUV Over $100K
- BMW X7 – 608
- Audi Q8 – 494
- Lexus LX – 419