A stark look at changing habits in the Aussie marketplace

Every month, the latest VFACTS report sends CarAdvice into meltdown. This year, the HiLux and Ranger have maintained their stronghold on top of the sales charts, continuing Australia’s love affair with the dual-cab ute. But it wasn’t always this way.

Here’s a look at VFACTS data from March 1998, 2003, 2008 and 2013 for a better understanding of how the average Australian buyer’s preferences have changed.

March 2013

Toyota topped the charts – surprise surprise – with 18,653 sales for the month, for a 19.2 per cent market share. They were trailed by Mazda with its 9112 sales and 9.4 per cent share, while Nissan barely pipped Hyundai to take out third place. It sold 8408 cars, for an 8.6 per cent share.

Passenger cars outsold SUVs by almost 20,000 vehicles, led by the Mazda 3 (3786 sales) and Toyota Corolla (3512). The CX-5 also performed strongly for Mazda (1830), in a sign of things to come.

The Holden Commodore sold just 1606 units, down from 3187 in the year before, making the Cruze the best-selling Australia-built car.

March 2008

It was a familiar story for Toyota, which rode the Corolla to first place in the market. The brand shifted 21,669 units and held a 23.7 per cent market share, ahead of the 11,211 sales managed by Holden and its accompanying 12.3 per cent share.

Ford locked out the podium for March 2008, with 9206 sales and 10.1 per cent market share. Mazda wasn't far off Ford, with a handy 7565 sales and an 8.3 per cent market share.

The Mazda 3 trailed the Toyota Corolla, with 3039 and 3968 sales respectively, while the Holden Commodore beat both for top-selling honours. A whopping 3988 found new homes, down from 5752 the year before. Toyota also saw success with the HiLux, with 3529 sales for the month.

Although stronger than January for the same year, the Ford Falcon languished on 2322 sales.

March 2003

Toyota was the best-selling marque in the country, but not by much. With 17,180 sales, the company held a 22.6 per cent share of the market, just ahead of Holden with 14,891 sales and a 19.6 per cent share.

Ford beat Mitsubishi to third place, shifting 10,921 vehicles for a 14.3 per cent market share.

Holden moved 9464 units of the Commodore for the month, outselling the Ford Falcon (8126) and smashing the Toyota Corolla (3236) and Camry (3997).

March 1998

Holden was king in March 1998, topping the charts with 14,288 sales and a 20.8 per cent market share. Toyota came in second with 13,520 unit sold and a 19.7 per cent share, while Ford rounded out the podium with 10,647 sales and a 15.5 per cent market share.

The best-sellers shouldn't come as a surprise: Holden moved 10,028 (9084 sedan/wagon, 944 ute) examples of the Commodore, and Ford sold 6425 (5632 sedan/wagon, 717 ute, 76 van) of its Falcon.

The ever-popular Camry found 2869 homes, while there were 2106 new Corolla owners for the month. Neither of those figures are a match for the Mitsubishi Magna, which ended up in 3173 driveways across its four- and six-cylinder guises.