The Ford Ranger ute has toppled the Toyota HiLux, as Victoria continues to slam the brakes on the rest of the new-car market.
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The Ford Ranger ute was Australia’s top selling vehicle in September, overtaking the Toyota HiLux to become market leader for the first time in three years.

The September 2017 and September 2020 results are the only time a Ford motor vehicle has been number one in the monthly sales charts in Australia since the Falcon last beat the Holden Commodore in August 2005.

While last month was only the second time the Ford Ranger ute has topped the monthly sales charts outright, momentum had been building.

Earlier in the year, Ford had requested the Thailand factory work overtime to boost showroom stock, whereas Toyota ran chronically short on HiLux models, despite claiming the transition to an updated model ran perfectly.

Four-wheel-drive variants of the Ford Ranger outsold the equivalent Toyota HiLux for eight months last year (and in the 2017 and 2019 calendar year totals), but industry practice is to include 4x2 and 4x4 models.

With all variants combined, the Ford Ranger outsold the Toyota HiLux in August – finishing in second and third place respectively – but the Toyota RAV4 took the spotlight when it led the overall market for the second month in a row.

The Toyota RAV4’s record run – topping the sales charts for two months in a row – came to an end after a glut of back orders were filled in July and August, slipping to a still-respectable third place in September.

The Toyota HiLux’s second place in September follows its biggest slowdown in recorded history in August.

Nevertheless the Toyota HiLux is on track to become Australia’s top-selling car for the fifth year in a row and the Ford Ranger is poised to finish second for the fourth year in a row.

Official sales figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) show total new-car sales in September 2020 were down by 21.8 per cent compared with the same month the previous year, with 68,985 vehicles reported as sold versus 88,181 in September 2019.

It was the 30th month in a row of year-on-year decline – the longest continuous slump since the Global Financial Crisis – and the weakest September result in 18 years, since 2002. It amounted to the fourth worst sales month so far this year.

Year-to-date, new-car sales are down by 20.5 per cent compared to the first nine months of 2019, with 644,891 vehicles reported as sold so far in 2020.

The state of Victoria was the biggest contributor to the sales slowdown in September, with just 10,447 new cars reported as sold (versus 24,686 for the same month last year), a sharp decline of 57.7 per cent.

By comparison, new-car sales in NSW were down by 6.0 per cent, while Queensland was down by 7.9 per cent, and South Australia was down by 22.1 per cent.

New-car sales in all states hit reverse except the Australian Capital Territory (up 3.4 per cent, as insurance companies replace motor vehicles written off in severe storms earlier this year), while Western Australia (up 1.5 per cent) and the Northern Territory (up 10.6 per cent) posted gains due to mining and construction.

The car industry has repeatedly voiced its uncertainty about a sales recovery.

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

“Victoria continues to drag down the rest of the country however I think the economic realities of the pandemic are starting to set in and it’s uncertain how long our industry will take to recover,” said the CEO of the AADA James Voortman.

“Although there’s a lot of economic certainty at this time, we are hopeful that the relaxation on lending regulations announced last week will flow through and give consumers confidence to borrow money to purchase a car.”

The chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), Tony Weber, said: “Freeing up restrictions around financial lending will act as a real-world stimulus for Australian industry.

A statement from the FCAI added: "Restrictive lending practices have been one of the major factors contributing to the declining new vehicle market which has seen 30 consecutive months of decreasing sales in Australia.This market regression has also been attributed to a number of other factors including natural disasters, unfavourable exchange rates and economic uncertainty."

Market leader Toyota posted a 14.7 per cent decline in sales in September 2020 compared to the same month the prior year, however it maintained a comfortable lead over second-placed Mazda.

Sister brands Hyundai and Kia continued their neck and neck sales battle, separated by 181 sales in September (versus just four sales apart 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.

Notably, only three Top 10 brands – Toyota, Ford and Kia – increased their market share compared to the same month last year.

Mitsubishi dropped to sixth place in September 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 September 2020.

Mercedes-Benz again made it into the Top 10 – finishing in ninth place ahead of Subaru – despite posting a monthly decline of 10.7 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 September in 11th spot – with a 9.6 per cent sales decline – ahead Honda, MG, and Isuzu.

Audi finished 15th with a 14.7 per cent sales decline.

Holden continues to deplete showroom stock, with just 522 vehicles reported as sold (versus 555 in August), as dealerships continue 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 almost as many pick-ups in September as Mini sold hatchbacks.

Top 10 car brands in September 2020

RankBrandVolume September 2020Change year-on-year
1Toyota12,936down 14.7 per cent
2Mazda7000down 14.3 per cent
3Hyundai5273down 27.2 per cent
4Kia5092down 0.7 per cent
5Ford4816up 0.7 per cent
6Mitsubishi4179down 53.5 per cent
7Volkswagen3493down 8.5 per cent
8Nissan2588down 44.4 per cent
9Mercedes-Benz2395down 10.7 per cent
10Subaru2121down 39.4 per cent

Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.


Top 10 selling cars in September 2020

RankModelVolume July 2020Change year-on-year
1Ford Ranger3726up 19.6 per cent
2Toyota HiLux3610up 7.3 per cent
3Toyota RAV42433up 41.8 per cent
4Hyundai i301786down 27.0 per cent
5Mazda CX-51765down 25.1 per cent
6Kia Cerato1599down 20.9 per cent
7Toyota Corolla1462down 34.1 per cent
8Mitsubishi Triton1446down 51.8 per cent
9Hyundai Tucson1199down 19.4 per cent
10Toyota Camry1192up 0.5 per cent

Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.


The market

New-car sales in September 2020 were down by 21.8 per cent compared to the same month last year, with 68,985 vehicles reported as sold. It was the 30th month in a row of year-on-year decline.

Year-to-date, 644,891 new vehicles have been reported as sold, a decrease of 20.5 per cent compared to the first nine months of last year.

While sales for September 2020 were down, many dealers ran out of stock following temporary factory shutdowns during the coronavirus crisis, and stronger than expected demand in June, July and August – as buyers planned to holiday at home.

This decrease of 21.8 per cent in September compares to a 28.8 per cent decline in August 2020, 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 September result in 18 years and follows the weakest August tally in 23 years, 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 September 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 12,936, down 14.7 per cent compared to the same month last year.

Toyota’s September market share slid to 18.2 per cent, compared to 20.4 per cent in August, 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 Toyota represented almost one in five new vehicles sold.

Mazda held onto second place with 7000 sales (down 14.3 per cent) but it only had one car in the Top 10.

Hyundai finished in third place 181 sales ahead of its sister brand Kia, with 5273 new cars reported as sold.

Top 25 brands for September 2020

Models

The Ford Ranger ute was the top-selling vehicle outright in Australia in September 2020, when sales of both 4x4 and 4x2 models are combined (as is industry practice).

Ford reported 3726 Ranger utes as sold (up 19.6 per cent) compared to the second-placed Toyota HiLux with 3610 sales (up 7.3 per cent).

Toyota filled four spots in the Top 10, with the HiLux, RAV4 (2433 sold, up 41.8 per cent), Corolla (1462 sold, down 34.1 per cent), and Camry (1192 sold, up 0.5 per cent).

Passenger cars: Top Three in each segment

MicroKia Picanto (357)Mitsubishi Mirage (34)Fiat 500 (34)
Light < $25kMG MG3 (809)Mazda 2 (471)Kia Rio (388)
Light > $25kMini hatch (146)Audi A1 (30)Renault Zoe (9)
Small < $40kHyundai i30 1786 (+127 Elantra)Kia Cerato (1599)Toyota Corolla (1462)
Small > $40kMercedes-Benz A-Class (460)Audi A3 (262)BMW 1 Series (235)
Medium < $60kToyota Camry (1192)Skoda Octavia (227)Mazda6 (152)
Medium > $60kMercedes-Benz C-Class (283)BMW 3 Series (241)Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class (213)
Large < $70kKia Stinger (179)Holden Commodore (78)Skoda Superb (29)
Large > $70kMercedes-Benz E-Class (93)BMW 5 Series (51)Audi A6 (23)
Upper LargeBMW 7 Series (11)Mercedes-Benz S-Class (9)BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe (8)
People MoversKia Carnival (237)Honda Odyssey (69)LDV G10 wagon (67)
Sports < $80kFord Mustang (145)Mazda MX-5 (54)Hyundai Veloster (49)
Sports > $80kMercedes-Benz E-Class coupe and convertible (97)Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe and convertible (94)BMW 4 Series coupe and convertible (23)
Sports > $200kPorsche 911 (62)Ferrari range (25)Aston Martin coupe and convertible (9)

SUVs: Top Three in each segment

Light SUVMazda CX-3 (1188)Hyundai Venue (365)Volkswagen T-Cross (364)
Small SUV < $40kKia Seltos (1089)Hyundai Kona (1036)Mitsubishi ASX (940)
Small SUV > $40kAudi Q3 (362)BMW X1 (351)Volvo XC40 (293)
Medium SUV < $60kToyota RAV4 (2433)Mazda CX-5 (1765)Hyundai Tucson (1199)
Medium SUV > $60kBMW X3 (407)Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class (295)Volvo XC60 (273)
SUV Large < $70kToyota Prado (820)Mazda CX-9 (624)Kia Sorento (569)
SUV Large > $70kBMW X5 (212)Mercedes-Benz GLE (190)Audi Q7 (137)
SUV Upper LargeToyota LandCruiser Wagon (990)Nissan Patrol Wagon (190)
SUV Upper Large > $100kAudi Q8 (71)BMW X7 (67) Land Rover Discovery (50)

Utes and vans: Top Three in each segment

Vans < 2.5tVolkswagen Caddy (128)Renault Kangoo (50)Peugeot Partner (24)
Vans 2.5t-3.5tToyota Hiace (442)Hyundai iLoad (249)LDV G10 (143)
4x2 UtesToyota HiLux (820)Ford Ranger (272)Isuzu D-Max (262)
4x4 UtesFord Ranger (3545)Toyota HiLux (2790)Mitsubishi Triton (1234)

Top 25 models for September 2020

Miscellaneous

Electrified vehicles – including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, pure electric – almost doubled from 2351 deliveries in September 2019 to 4674 reported as sold in September 2020.

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 up by 5.2 per cent, from 153 in September 2019 to 161 in September 2020.

Sales of hybrid cars more than doubled from 2082 sales in September 2019 to 4389 reported as sold in September 2020.

Sales of plug-in hybrid cars rose modestly from 116 sales in September 2019 to 124 reported as sold in September 2020.

The Top 10 was a reflection of our changing taste in cars: three vehicles were SUVs, three were utes, and three were small cars and one was a mid-size sedan.

September 2020 sales by segment