The Toyota RAV4 has topped the sales charts for the second month in a row, and the hybrid version alone outsold every other vehicle on the market in August.
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A petrol-electric hybrid vehicle has topped the monthly sales charts for the first time in Australian automotive history – as Victoria’s strict lockdown restrictions kept the market in reverse during the coronavirus crisis.

The Toyota RAV4 SUV was the nation’s top-selling vehicle for the second month in a row, but the hybrid version alone accounted for the overwhelming majority of sales – and was enough to lead the entire market in its own right.

Official sales figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) show the Toyota RAV4 was the top-selling vehicle with 4825 examples reported as sold. Of those, 4405 were hybrids and the remaining 420 were petrol-only models.

Figures from Toyota show it has sold more than 33,400 hybrid cars in the first eight months of 2020 than it did for the whole of last year – overtaking the record annual total of 27,000 hybrids in 2019.

While the result reflects the increasing popularity of hybrid vehicles – with 92 per cent of RAV4s delivered in August 2020 being the petrol-electric variety – the numbers are distorted by a glut of stock arriving to fill backorders.

Toyota has ramped up production of the RAV4 Hybrid in response to a 10-month waiting list for the model.

At the other end of the scale, Australia’s top-selling vehicle for the past four years in a row – the Toyota HiLux ute – suffered its biggest slowdown in recorded history.

Despite Toyota claiming it had a perfect runout of HiLux as it switched to an updated model, sales fell off a cliff and dealers were left without enough vehicles to deliver. Customers were forced to wait for up to six weeks.

Toyota HiLux sales were slashed by two-thirds (down 66.9 per cent to 1217 reported as sold) and the iconic ute was beaten by the Mitsubishi Triton for the first time in its history.

However, the Toyota HiLux is still on track to retain its top-seller status for the fifth year in a row, but it remains to be seen if the $10,000-plus increase in drive-away prices will dent sales.

The Ford Ranger ute again outsold the Toyota HiLux for the month, and is on track to win the number two spot in the 2020 new-car sales race.

If both models maintain their dominance for the rest of the year, it will be the fourth year in a row that the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger utes have filled the top two spots in the Australian new-car market.

Total new-car sales in August 2020 were down nationally by 28.8 per cent compared with the same month the previous year, with 60,986 vehicles reported as sold versus 85,633 in August 2019.

It was the 29th month in a row of year-on-year decline – the longest continuous slump since the Global Financial Crisis – and the weakest August result in 23 years, since 1997. It amounted to the third worst sales month so far this year.

Year-to-date, new-car sales are down by 20.4 per cent compared to the first eight months of 2019, with 575,906 vehicles reported as sold so far in 2020.

The state of Victoria was the biggest contributor to the sales slowdown in August, where some showrooms were left locked and empty (pictured above). Victoria reported just 8347 new cars as sold (versus 24,476 for the same month last year), a shocking decline of 65.9 per cent.

By comparison, new-car sales in NSW were down by 16.3 per cent, Queensland was down by 14.1 per cent, and South Australia was down by 10.8 per cent.

Indeed, new-car sales in all states hit reverse except the Australian Capital Territory which is still posting sales gains as insurance companies replace motor vehicles written off in severe storms earlier this year.

The car industry has voiced its uncertainty about a sales recovery, which suffered a major setback as Victoria went back into strict lockdowns and forced dealerships to shut their showrooms. Victoria has historically been the second-biggest new-car market nationally.

Tony Weber, the chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), said: “While we have the utmost respect for essential health priorities, the automotive industry supports the reopening of our economy under appropriate COVIDSafe protocols.”

“We’ve seen 29 consecutive months of diminishing sales in this industry, and there’s no doubt our members are feeling the pinch,” said Mr Weber. “The move to commence the reopening of industry and markets, especially in Victoria, needs to start as soon as possible.”

The Australian Automotive Dealers Association (AADA), which represents 50,000 employees and more than 3500 showrooms across the nation, says the August figures showed the recovery could take longer than expected.

“We saw a continued decrease in foot traffic in August, plus there were severe stock shortages. We now can’t predict how long it will take for new-car sales to recover, and Victoria put a severe dent on sales,” said the CEO of the AADA, James Voortman.

“As the Victorian Government considers easing restrictions for certain industries, it really needs to allow automotive businesses to open and start serving their customers, beyond service and parts departments,” said Mr Voortman.

“Dealerships are well placed to observe COVID-safe plans and already have the measures in place, in preparation for when restrictions are eased,” he said.

Although Toyota posted a 25.5 per cent decline in sales – slowing at a greater rate than the rest of the market – it remained market leader with a comfortable lead ahead of Mazda.

Meanwhile, sister brands Hyundai and Kia continue their neck and beck battle, separated by just four sales in August – to finish in third and fourth place respectively.

However, Hyundai has a comfortable lead over Kia when the year-to-date tally is compared.

Mitsubishi dropped to fifth place in August after it ranked third on the monthly sales charts in July for only the seventh time in its history.

The luxury-car sector continued to reveal mixed results in August 2020.

Mercedes-Benz again made it into the Top 10 despite posting a monthly decline of 13.3 per cent.

BMW, which had earlier in the year made a strong showing in the Top 10 after registering a large number of demonstrator models and company cars to boost its numbers, again fell outside the Top 10.

BMW finished August in 12th spot – with a 24 per cent sales decline – just behind Honda and narrowly ahead of China’s MG brand. Audi finished 15th with a 26.2 per cent sales decline.

Holden is close to depleting its showroom stock, with just 555 vehicles reported as sold, as a number of dealerships have begun to remove signage ahead of the shutdown of the brand at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, our appetite for US pick-ups continued during the pandemic, and fuel economy was clearly not a factor: Ram sold more pick-ups in August than Mini sold hatchbacks.

Top 10 car brands in August 2020

Toyota: 12,449, down 25.5 per cent
Mazda: 6921, down 5.1 per cent
Hyundai: 4525, down 38.2 per cent
Kia: 4521, down 3.0 per cent
Mitsubishi: 4308, down 31.0 per cent
Ford: 3898, down 20.7 per cent
Volkswagen: 2785, down 32.1 per cent
Nissan: 2380, down 47.6 per cent
Mercedes-Benz: 2064, down 13.3 per cent
Subaru: 2052, down 42.2 per cent

Top 10 selling cars in August 2020

Toyota RAV4: 4825, up 140.5 per cent
Ford Ranger: 2935, down 7.7 per cent
Mazda CX-5: 1884, up 4.8 per cent
Toyota Corolla: 1464, down 48.9 per cent
Hyundai i30: 1429, down 49.2 per cent
Mitsubishi Triton: 1406, down 19.9 per cent
Mazda CX-3: 1355, up 3.6 per cent
Kia Cerato: 1264, down 25.0 per cent
Toyota HiLux: 1217, down 66.9 per cent
Kia Seltos: 1046, NA

Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

The market

New-car sales in August 2020 were down by 28.8 per cent compared to the same month last year, with 60,986 vehicles reported as sold. It was the 29th month in a row of year-on-year decline.

Year-to-date, 575,906 new vehicles have been reported as sold, a decrease of 20.4 per cent compared to the first eight months of last year.

While sales for August 2020 were down, many dealers ran out of stock following temporary factory shutdowns during the coronavirus crisis, and stronger than expected demand in June and July.

This decrease of 28.8 per cent in August 2020 compares to a 12.8 per cent decline in July 2020, a 6.4 per cent decline in June 2020, a 35.3 per cent decline in May 2020, and a 48.5 per cent decline in April 2020, in the grip of the coronavirus crisis.

Last month was the lowest August result in 23 years, and follows theweakest July in 18 years, the worst June in nine years, a 23-year low in May, and the lowest April result in at least 30 years.

Brands

Toyota remains market leader for August 2020 comfortably ahead of its nearest rivals, and is on track for its 18th year in a row as Australia’s top-selling car brand. The Japanese car giant’s sales totalled 12,449, down 25.5 per cent compared to the same month last year.

Toyota’s August market share slid to 20.4 per cent compared to 21.4 per cent in July, 20.7 per cent in June, 24.2 per cent in May and 26.5 per cent in April. Last month the brand represented one in five new vehicles sold.

Mazda held onto second place with 6921 sales (down 5.1 per cent) with two cars in the Top 10.

Hyundai finished in third place just four sales ahead of its sister brand Kia, with 4525 new cars reported as sold.


Top 25 brands for August 2020


Top 25 models for August 2020



Models

Toyota filled three spots in the Top 10, with the best-selling RAV4 (4825 sold, up 140 per cent), Corolla (1464 sold, down 48.9 per cent), and HiLux (1217 sold, down 66.9 per cent)

The Ford Ranger finished in second place when sales of both 4x4 and 4x2 models are combined (as is industry practice), with 2935 sold (down 7.7 per cent).


Market by segments


Year-on-year sales by segment


Total sales, year-on-year


Passenger cars: Top Three in each segment

  • Micro: Kia Picanto (343), Mitsubishi Mirage (68), Fiat 500 (34)
  • Light < $25k: MG MG3 (654), Kia Rio (445), VW Polo (340)
  • Light > $25k: Mini hatch (91), Renault Zoe (59) Audi A1 (38)
  • Small < $40k: Toyota Corolla (1464), Hyundai i30 1429 (+ 164 Elantra sedans), Kia Cerato (1264)
  • Small > $40k: Mercedes-Benz A-Class (406), Audi A3 (281), BMW 1 Series (164)
  • Medium < $60k: Toyota Camry (910), Skoda Octavia (182), Mazda6 (174)
  • Medium > $60k: Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class (239), BMW 3 Series (173), Mercedes-Benz C-Class (155)
  • Large < $70k: Kia Stinger (178), Holden Commodore (71), Skoda Superb (27)
  • Large > $70k: Mercedes-Benz E-Class (53), BMW 5 Series (34), Audi A6 (16)
  • Upper Large: Mercedes-Benz S-Class (10), BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe (8), Mercedes-Benz AMG GT four-door (5)
  • People Movers: Kia Carnival (284), Honda Odyssey (59), LDV G10 wagon (54)
  • Sports < $80k: Ford Mustang (147), Hyundai Veloster (78), Mazda MX-5 (53)
  • Sports > $80k: Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe and convertible (75), Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe and convertible (36), BMW 4 Series coupe and convertible (25)
  • Sports > $200k: Porsche 911 (25), Ferrari range (11), BMW 8 Series (10)

SUVs: Top Three in each segment

  • Light SUV: Mazda CX-3 (1136), Hyundai Venue (357), Suzuki Jimny (306)
  • Small SUV < $40k: Kia Seltos (1046) Mitsubishi ASX (929), Hyundai Kona (846)
  • Small SUV > $40k: Volvo XC40 (225), Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class (201), BMW X1 (164)
  • Medium SUV < $60k: Toyota RAV4 (4825), Mazda CX-5 (1884), Nissan X-Trail (924)
  • Medium SUV > $60k: Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class (385), BMW X3 (302), Volvo XC60 (237)
  • SUV Large < $70k: Toyota Kluger (601), Mazda CX-9 (601), Isuzu MU-X (597)
  • SUV Large > $70k: BMW X5 (197), Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class (171), Volkswagen Touareg (84)
  • SUV Upper Large: Toyota LandCruiser Wagon (893), Nissan Patrol Wagon (187)
  • SUV Upper Large > $100k: BMW X7 (66), Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class (45), Mercedes-Benz G-Class (44)

Utes and vans: Top Three in each segment

  • Vans < 2.5t: Volkswagen Caddy (114), Renault Kangoo (25), Peugeot Partner (16)
  • Vans 2.5t-3.5t: Toyota Hiace (413), Hyundai iLoad (274), Renault Trafic (98)
  • 4x2 Utes: Toyota HiLux (281), Ford Ranger (217), Mazda BT-50 (205)
  • 4x4 Utes: Ford Ranger (2718), Mitsubishi Triton (1218), Toyota HiLux (936)

Miscellaneous

Electrified vehicles – including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, pure electric – more than doubled from 3129 deliveries in August 2019 to 6694 reported as sold in August 2020.

But the growth was driven largely by hybrid cars and in particular the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

Sales of pure electric cars (not including Tesla, which does not supply figures) were down by 20.9 per cent, from 196 in August 2019 to 155 in August 2020.

Sales of hybrid cars more than doubled from 2845 sales in August 2019 to 6436 reported as sold in August 2020.

Sales of plug-in hybrid cars rose from 88 sales in August 2019 to 103 reported as sold in August 2020.

The Top 10 was a fair reflection of our changing taste in cars: four vehicles were SUVs, three were utes and three were passenger cars.

However, it’s worth noting the sharp sales declines of the Toyota Corolla and Hyundai i30 hatchbacks (both figures were half of those reported for the same month last year), and the 25 per cent drop in the Kia Cerato.