The overall new car market falls to lowest point in years, but value brands Mitsubishi and Kia are making proverbial hay while the sun shines
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  • Worst first quarter and worst March tallies since 2014
  • 12 successive negative months 'achieved'
  • Only two of the top 10 brands grew their sales over March 2018: Mitsubishi (big at home in SA...) and Kia
  • South Australia (up 9.4%) and Tasmania (up 6.2%) buck the trend
  • Top three vehicles by sales were all utes, Toyota HiLux outsells entire Holden range
  • FCAI chief cites economic headwinds and a cautious consumer approach

New vehicle sales failed to recover lost ground during March, falling 7.1% over the March 2018 tally, meaning 99,442 units.

This data comes from VFACTS, a sales record compiled by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, based on sales figures submitted by each of the market's car brands. While not flawless, it's the best we have.

It's the lowest March sales tally since 2014, when 97,267 vehicles were sold. It also means there have now been 12 successive months of sales decline relative to the corresponding month in the previous year.

March is traditionally one of the year's two biggest months alongside June because it's the end of the Japanese financial year, and Japan is our biggest source of vehicles.

The poor performance means the annual (YTD) sales tally over Q1 of 2019 is 268,538 sales, down 7.9% over 2018's tally. Once again, it's the worst performance since the year 2014.


Toyota was top of the pops as always, though its 17,298 sales (17.4% market share) was 8.4% lower than last year's haul. Camry, Corolla and the runout RAV4 all fell away, though the HiLux, Prado and LandCruiser held firm.

But the big mover was once again Mitsubishi, capitalising on its value-for-money positioning in a shaky economic situation to grow 15% to 10,135 units, and finish second overall. An amazing three of the top 10 vehicles were Mitsubishis: Triton, ASX and Outlander. It was also top in its home state of South Australia, suggesting some company car registrations...

Next were Mazda (down 1.1% to 9618, which actually qualifies as a good performance compared to the overall market decline), Hyundai (down 8.4% to 7731, and incidentally down 13.6% YTD) and Ford (down 7.9% to 6160, with the Ranger representing three-fifths of its sales).

Kia did well (up 4.3% to 5303, the only other top 10 brand to grow its sales), and beat out Nissan (down 17.4% to 5115), Volkswagen (down 8.9% to 4682), Honda (down 22.4% to 4335) and "challenger brand" Holden (down 25.1% to 3833, outsold by the HiLux alone to give you context).

The positions of 11-19 were occupied by Mercedes-Benz (down 3.7%), Subaru (down 41.9% due to an ongoing stock issue, in fairness), Isuzu Ute (down 3.8%), BMW (down 5%), Suzuki (down 16.1% despite the hyped new Jimny and Series II Vitara), Audi (down 23% for March and 25.8% YTD), Land Rover (up 25.4%, thanks largely to a stellar month for the Discovery Sport), Lexus (down 5.6%) and Renault (down 23.9%).

Volvo Car rounded out the top 20, continuing with strong momentum on the back of its growing SUV range to grow about 50% to 748 sales. Spots 21-25 were MG, LDV, Porsche and Skoda. Refer to the table for the rest!


The top three models by sale were all utes: the Toyota HiLux grew 4.1% to 4527 units, the Ford Ranger fell 8.4% but still finished second with 3721 units and the Mitsubishi Triton fell 14.2% to 2666 as stock of the old model cleared, and the new model lagged.

The Mazda 3 was fourth on 2642 (down 5%), ahead of its rival Toyota Corolla (2499, down 22.3%, yet more profitable since the average price is up and around 30% were hybrids). The Mazda CX-5 was the top SUV and sixth overall on 2414, up 6.8%.

Rounding out the top 10 were the Hyundai i30 (down 11.7% to 2402), Toyota LandCruiser across all its varietals (up 7.4% to 2307), Mitsubishi ASX (down 4.3% to 2236) and the Mitsubishi Outlander (up 44.2% to 2067 units thanks to some ridiculously sharp deals).


Top 5 passenger brands by market share (%) were Toyota (16.1), Hyundai (13.9), Mazda (13.3), Kia (13.3) and Volkswagen (7.2).

Micro: Kia Picanto (572), Fiat 500 (99) and Mitsubishi Mirage (85)
Light: Hyundai Accent (1142), Mazda 2 (876) and Toyota Yaris (745)
Small: Mazda 3 (2642), Toyota Corolla (2499) and Hyundai i30 (2402)
Premium Small: Mercedes A-Class (484), Audi A3 (337) and BMW 1 Series (137)
Medium: Toyota Camry (1256), Mazda 6 (285) and Ford Mondeo (98)
Premium Medium: Mercedes C-Class (634), BMW 3 Series (270) and Audi A4 (167)
Large: Holden Commodore (423, 17 being VFII), Kia Stinger (165) and Skoda Superb (86)
Premium Large: Mercedes E-Class (131), BMW 5 Series (117), and Mercedes CLS (26)
People Movers: Kia Carnival (598), Honda Odyssey (166) and Volkswagen Multivan (103)
Sports < $80k: Ford Mustang (434), Mazda MX-5 (65) and BMW 2 Series (50)
Sports < $200k: Mercedes C-Class (332), Mercedes E-Class (47) and BMW 4 Series (46)
Sports > $200k: Porsche 911 (70), Ferrari range (18) and Bentley/Aston Martin two-doors (both 11)


Top 5 SUV brands by market share (%) were Mitsubishi! (15.2), Toyota (14.3), Mazda (10.1), Nissan (8.1) and Hyundai (7.4)

Small: Mitsubishi ASX (2236), Nissan Qashqai (1286) and Mazda CX-3 (1231)
Premium Small: Volvo XC40 (282), Mercedes-Benz GLA (252) and Audi Q2 (230)
Medium: Mazda CX-5 (2414), Mitsubishi Outlander (2067) and Nissan X-Trail (1861)
Premium Medium: Mercedes-Benz GLC/GLC Coupe (711), BMW X3/X4 (603) and Land Rover Discovery Sport (508)
Large: Toyota Prado (1665), Mitsubishi Pajero Sport (1231) and Subaru Outback (929)
Premium Large: Range Rover Sport (346), BMW X5 (332) and Porsche Cayenne (188)
Upper Large < $100k: Toyota LandCruiser wagon (1455) and Nissan Patrol (263)
Upper Large > $100k: Lexus LX (56), Audi Q8 (52) and Range Rover (40)

Light Commercials:

Top 5 LCV brands by market share (%) were Toyota (28.3), Ford (18.4), Mitsubishi (12.4), Holden (8.1) and Isuzu Ute (7.7)

Small Vans: Volkswagen Caddy (149), Renault Kangoo (70) and Citroen Berlingo (15)
Medium Vans: Toyota HiAce (485), Hyundai iLoad (325) and Ford Transit Custom (229)
4x2 Utes: Toyota HiLux (1130), Isuzu D-Max (546) and Mitsubishi Triton (409)
4x4 Utes: Toyota HiLux (3397), Ford Ranger (3340) and Mitsubishi Triton (2257)

Other things you should know

  • SUV sales were 45,660 (45.9% share), passenger cars 28,999 (29.2%), and LCV 21,488 (21.6%)
  • Sales by State: NSW (31,847, down 8.4%), Victoria (27,520, down 11.5%), Queensland (20,402, down 5.5%), WA (8516, down 3.5%), SA (6927, up 9.4%), ACT (1672, down 7.9%), Tasmania (1595, up 6.2%), NT (963, down 9.7%).
  • Sales by type: private (45,910, down 4.4%), business (40,849, down 8.5%), rental (6088, down 17.6%) and government (3300, down 4.9%).
  • Sales of hybrid cars: 1541 units, up 28.2%. Petrol vehicles accounted for 61,040 units, diesel 36,383.
  • Top sources of cars: Japan 30,681, Thailand 26,909, Korea 13,268, Germany 8506 and England on 3510.

BrandSales+/- %
Mercedes-Benz 3675-3.7%
Isuzu Ute2,481-3.8%
Land Rover1,371+25.4%
Volvo Car748+49.6%
Great Wall96+100.0%
Infiniti 93+116.3%
Alfa Romeo82-38.3%
Aston Martin11Same

Any questions? Ask us in the comments and we'll answer when we have time.