Finance sector reform, the drought and falling house prices dent vehicle sales, compared to 2017's record tally
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New vehicle sales in Australia fell by 3 per cent in 2018, over the previous year’s all-time record, finishing at 1,153,111 units. Ten out of 12 months were behind their equivalent in 2017, and December was the quietest since 2008.

A weaker housing market (particularly in NSW), reforms to the financial sector that drives car loans, and the drought ravaging rural Australia have all been blamed as factors.

Every state and territory with the sole exception of Tasmania (up 3.3 per cent) went backwards last year, with the biggest state NSW accounting for the biggest reduction in volumes by far — down 6.6 per cent, equating to 26,306 vehicles.

Fascinatingly, SUVs accounted for 43 per cent of all sales, while passenger vehicles plummeted five points to just 32.8 per cent market share.

It’s the first time PVs have owned less than one-third of the market. Light commercials managed 20.6 per cent market share, though two of their number — the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger — were the top-two selling vehicles in the market.

The five most popular vehicle segments were Medium SUV (17.9 per cent share), Small Cars (17.3), 4x4 Utes (15.1), Small SUV (12.1) and Large SUV (11.5).


Toyota was the market leader for the 16th year in a row, and managed to manage the market decline and show small growth in its first year as a full-line importer of all its vehicles. It’s the 22nd time the Japanese giant has been market leader, and it led in eight segments.

Its sales haul of 217,061 units was almost double the market’s number two Mazda, which managed 111,280 units at a decline just above the market average, giving it market share a smidgen under 10 per cent. Third spot on the podium was owned by Hyundai (94,187, down 2.9 per cent).

Ford fell away 11.6 per cent to 69,081 units, but this decline was nothing compared to old foe Holden, which dropped a staggering 32.7 per cent to 60,751 units. The imported ZB Commodore is not as popular as the VF II was, nor have the Astra or Equinox fired. The Colorado was also outsold by the related Isuzu D-Max.

Kia grew a very commendable 7.5 per cent to 57,699, and in doing so edged out Volkswagen (56,620, down 2.4 per cent), Honda (51,525, up 10.1 per cent), Subaru (50,015, down 4.8 per cent) and Mercedes-Benz (39,537, down 7 per cent).

Other brands that grew volumes in the down year include (alphabetically): Alfa Romeo (1279, up 21 per cent), Isuzu Ute (27,640, up 7.1 per cent), Jaguar (3679, up 7.9 per cent), LDV (6064, up 135 per cent!), MG (3007, up five-fold), RAM (723, up 812.7 per cent), Skoda (5807, up 8.5 per cent) and Volvo Car (6693, up a very strong 43 per cent).

BrandSalesChange over 2017
Toyota 217,0610.2%
Hyundai 94,187-2.9%
Mitsubishi 84,9445.3%
Holden 60,751-32.7%
Subaru 50,015-4.8%
Isuzu Ute 27,6407.1%
Audi 19,416-11.8%
Land Rover 10,089-23.1%
Lexus 88190.2%
Jeep 7326-11.4%
Volvo Car669343%
Porsche 3909-12.8%
Mini 3590-3.3%


Within the top 25 selling vehicles, there were seven classified as passenger cars, 12 classified as SUVs and six classified as light commercials.

Owning the podium were the HiLux and Ranger, sitting ahead of the Toyota Corolla (the #1 passenger car), Mazda 3 and Hyundai i30. Next was the Mazda CX-5 (the #1 SUV), Mitsubishi Triton, Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail and Hyundai Tucson.

Toyota HiLux 51,705
Ford Ranger 42,144
Toyota Corolla 35,230
Mazda 331,065
Hyundai i3028,188 (32,031 with Elantra)
Mazda CX-526,173
Mitsubishi Triton24,896
Toyota RAV422,165
Nissan X-Trail 21,192
Hyundai Tucson 19,261
Volkswagen Golf19,076
Mitsubishi ASX19,034
Kia Cerato18,620
Toyota Prado 18,553
Isuzu D-Max 18,550
Holden Colorado 18,301
Nissan Navara 16,459
Mazda CX-3 16,293
Honda CR-V16,107
Hyundai Accent 15,675
Mitsubishi Outlander 15,573
Toyota Camry 15,269
Toyota Kluger 14,743
Kia Sportage 14,042
Nissan Qashqai13,950


The top three vehicles within each market segment was as follows:


  • Micro: Kia Picanto (5394), Mitsubishi Mirage (1032) and Fiat 500 (770)
  • Light: Hyundai Accent (15,675), Mazda 2 (9542) and Toyota Yaris (9542)
  • Small: Toyota Corolla (35,230), Mazda 3 (31,065) Hyundai i30 (28,188)
  • Premium Small: Audi A3 (4257), MB A-Class (4175), BMW 1 Series (2532)
  • Medium: Toyota Camry (15,269), Mazda 6 (3328), Ford Mondeo (1914)
  • Premium Medium: MB C-Class (5055), MB CLA (3086), BMW 3 Series (3079)
  • Large: Holden Commodore (9040), Kia Stinger (1957), MB E-Class (1531)
  • People movers: Kia Carnival (6610), Honda Odyssey (1895), Volkswagen Multivan (1095)
  • Sports < $200k: Ford Mustang (6412), MB C-Class (1520), BMW 2 Series (1361)
  • Sports > $200k: Porsche 911 (511), Ferrari range (241), Mercedes-AMG GT (172)


  • Small: Mitsubishi ASX (19,034), Mazda CX-3 (16,293), Nissan Qashqai (13,950)
  • Premium Small: MB GLA (3906), BMW X1 (3096), Audi Q3 (2497)
  • Medium: Mazda CX-5 (26,173), Toyota RAV4 (22,165), Nissan X-Trail (21,192)
  • Premium Medium: MB GLC/Coupe (6599), BMW X3/X4 (6244), Audi Q5 (4086)
  • Large: Toyota Prado (18,553), Toyota Kluger (14,743), Subaru Outback (10,378)
  • Premium Large: BMW X5/X6 (3064) MB GLE/Coupe (2666), Range Rover Sport (2252)
  • Upper Large: Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series (13,677), Nissan Patrol (1259), MB GLS (956)

Light Commercials:

  • Small Vans: Volkswagen Caddy (1974), Renault Kangoo (816), Citroen Berlingo (259)
  • Medium Vans: Toyota HiAce (6852), Hyundai iLoad (4362), VW Transporter (2095)
  • Big Vans: MB Sprinter (3230), Renault Master (1535), Fiat Ducato (1175)
  • 4x2 Utes: Toyota HiLux (13,125), Isuzu D-Max (5324), Ford Ranger (5261)
  • 4x4 Utes: Toyota HiLux (38,580), Ford Ranger (36,883), Mitsubishi Triton (21,976)


Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) CEO Tony Weber acknowledged the lower result in 2018.

“New vehicle sales results in 2018 reflect a challenging climate across the Australian economy including a slowing housing market, tightening of money lending and the drought” Weber said.

“Australian consumers continue to value the comfort, flexibility and utility of SUVs, which collectively accounted for 43 per cent of the market in 2018. We predicted this trend to continue last year, and this has certainly been the case.”

Weber predicted another year above 1 million units for 2019, but would not be drawn on any more specifics than that.