Car sales went through the roof in November as Australians came out of lockdown and treated themselves to a new vehicle.
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Australians gorged themselves on new cars after coming out of COVID-19 lockdowns, with November the first monthly sales gain in 31 months – ending the longest market slump since the Global Financial Crisis a decade ago.

The Toyota HiLux ute extended its unassailable lead and is well on the way to becoming Australia’s top-selling vehicle outright for the fifth year in a row, ahead of the arch rival Ford Ranger ute for the fourth year in a row.

The Toyota LandCruiser wagon and Toyota Prado posted their best monthly sales results of all time – and the Nissan Patrol posted its strongest result since this model went on sale seven years ago – as Australians plan to holiday at home amid international travel restrictions.

Official figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) show 95,205 cars were reported as sold in November 2020, an increase of 12.4 per cent compared to the same month last year.

Year-to-date to the end of November 2020 there were 821,316 new vehicles reported as sold, down by 16.1 per cent for the same period last year, the running tally dragged down by monthly sales declines of up to 48.5 per cent at the start of the coronavirus crisis.

Despite the positive signs, the car industry remains cautious about the market's recovery.

According to industry sources, about one-third of new cars reported as sold in November were orders placed in prior months, as dealers make up for lost sales earlier in the year.

Car dealers, too, are struggling to source and deliver the sheer volume of new cars, as COVID-19 interrupted production and shipping – and many dealerships scaled back staff numbers in the peak of the pandemic.

Last month’s tally of 95,205 sales was the best November result in four years, after the new-car market reported between 98,600 and 101,300 deliveries between 2015 and 2017.

The sharp increase in new-car sales in November 2020 was driven largely by market leader Toyota, which posted its fourth-best monthly result of all time.

Toyota’s tally of 23,204 new vehicles reported as sold in November 2020 was a staggering 36.9 per cent increase compared to the same month last year, and helped elevate its annual tally to be just 3.8 per cent down year-to-date.

A market share of 24.4 per cent meant almost one in four new cars sold in November 2020 was a Toyota.

As buyers gravitated to brands they trust during the coronavirus crisis – and key new models arrived such as an updated Toyota HiLux and fresh supplies of the Toyota RAV4 SUV – November 2020 was the best monthly result for Toyota since June 2017 when 23,171 vehicles were reported as sold.

Toyota's all time monthly sales record of 25,624 was set in June 2008 – a year after its previous monthly record of 24,539 was established in June 2007.

Second-placed Mazda also had a blinder – with 9053 vehicles reported as sold, up 46.8 per cent compared to the same month last year – buoyed by the arrival of the new Mazda BT-50 ute.

Third-placed Hyundai only made modest gains in November 2020 (6903, up 1.2 per cent compared to the same month last year), however it gapped its sister brand Kia by some margin.

Kia ranked sixth (5376, up 4.6 per cent) behind Ford in fourth (6613, up 33.2 per cent thanks to strong demand and good supply of the Ranger ute) and Mitsubishi in fifth (5488, down 20 per cent due to a shortage of Triton utes).

New-car sales in every state and territory were up except in Tasmania (down 10.9 per cent).

The biggest new-car markets NSW (30,343, up 13 per cent), Victoria (26,616, up 9.1 per cent) and Queensland (19,874, up 19.5 per cent) drove the majority of the sales growth, though Victoria was the weakest of the three as dealers ramped up in the wake of the extended lockdown.

Tony Weber, chief executive of the FCAI, said the industry welcomed the first signs of recovery in the new vehicle market.

“With the Australian economy showing improvement, it’s good news to see new vehicle sales trending in a more positive direction,” Mr Weber said in a media statement.

“Why are we seeing an improvement now?We believe there are a few contributing factors, including rising optimism from the Australian public as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

“This increase in consumer confidence is backed by government support programs during the pandemic (such as the extension of the Instant Asset Write-off scheme), the easing of lending restrictions, and the current competitive automotive market.”

Travel restrictions have also played a significant role in the growth in new-car sales, particularly of “getaway cars” such as heavy duty four-wheel-drives, utes and SUVs, all of which have been in strong demand.

“Given our inability to travel internationally, many Australians are choosing to purchase a new vehicle and holiday at home this year – and we fully expect to see a notable increase in family driving trips over the Christmas season,” said Mr Weber.

The Australian Automotive Dealers Association (AADA) says the new-car market is yet to recover to its former glory of just a few years ago, and pointed out much of November’s surge was simply making up for lost sales earlier in the year.

“This is a very welcome result and we sincerely hope this is the start of many months of growth,” said James Voortman, the chief executive of the AADA.

“It is, however, important to put these results in context. Sales have been falling for 31 months in a row, so at some stage the market had to eventually return to growth on a monthly basis.”

Mr Voortman said the industry is still on track to post “the steepest annual decline on record, and the lowest annual total sales volume in almost 20 years”.

“We are conscious that there are still some challenges affecting the industry and the wider economy, so much too soon to declare victory,” said Mr Voortman.

In other surprises, Isuzu made it into the Top 10 – for the first time ever – despite having only two models in its range (2943, up 36.2 per cent), largely on the back of the arrival of the new D-Max ute.

Luxury brands BMW (2647, up 52.9 per cent) and Mercedes-Benz (2638, down 4.4 per cent) had a neck-and-neck battle but finished just outside the Top 10, in eleventh and twelfth place respectively.

German rival Audi ranked 15th (1819, up 13.1 per cent) behind Honda (2511, down 23.6 per cent), and a surging MG (2021, up 33.4 per cent, from a low base).

TOP 10 CARS IN NOVEMBER 2020

RankModelVolume November 2020Change year-on-year
1Toyota HiLux5038 up 33.0 per cent
2Ford Ranger4260up 22.0 per cent
3Toyota RAV43800up 64.1 per cent
4Toyota Corolla2744up 24.5 per cent
5Toyota Prado2602up 116.1 per cent
6Mazda CX-52412up 39.0 per cent
7Isuzu D-Max2095up 45.7 per cent
8Hyundai i302047down 12.5 per cent
9Hyundai Tucson1995up 38.2 per cent
10Toyota LandCruiser wagon1981up 116 per cent

TOP 10 CAR BRANDS IN NOVEMBER 2020

RankBrandVolume November 2020Change year-on-year
1Toyota 23,204 up 36.9 per cent
2Mazda9053up 46.8 per cent
3Hyundai6903up 1.2 per cent
4Ford6613up 33.2 per cent
5Mitsubishi5488down 20.0 per cent
6Kia5376up 4.6 per cent
7Nissan4001down 6.3 per cent
8Volkswagen3280down 16.4 per cent
9Subaru3203up 2.0 per cent
10Isuzu Ute Australia2943up 36.2 per cent


Passenger cars: Top Three in each segment

MicroKia Picanto (433)Fiat 500 (54)Mitsubishi Mirage (37)
Light < $25kMG3 (632)Toyota Yaris (482)Suzuki Swift (446)
Light > $25kMini (201)Audi A1 (45)Citroen C3 (3)
Small < $40kToyota Corolla (2774)Hyundai i30 (2037)Kia Cerato (1625)
Small > $40kMercedes A-Class (378)Audi A3 (275)BMW 1 Series (204)
Medium < $60kToyota Camry (1283)Skoda Octavia (286)Mazda6 (161)
Medium > $60kBMW 3 Series (461)Mercedes C-Class (353)Mercedes CLA-Class (203)
Large < $70kKia Stinger (119)Holden Commodore (67)Skoda Superb (24)
Large > $70kBMW 5 Series (80)Mercedes E-Class (62)Audi A6 (29)
Upper Large > $100kMercedes S-Class (12)BMW 8 Series (9)Rolls-Royce sedan (7)
People MoversKia Carnival (268)Honda Odyssey (107)LDV G10 (59)
Sports < $80kFord Mustang (230)BMW 2 Series (67)Hyundai Veloster (67)
Sports > $80kBMW 4 Series coupe and convertible (107)Mercedes C-Class coupe and convertible (87)Mercedes E-Class coupe and convertible (48)
Sports > $200kPorsche 911 (32)Bentley coupe and convertible (15)Mercedes AMG-GT (13)

SUVs: Top Three in each segment

Light SUVMazda CX-3 (1562)Toyota Yaris Cross (794)Suzuki Jimny (334)
Small SUV < $40kMitsubishi ASX (1465)Hyundai Kona (1453)MG ZS (1133)
Small SUV > $40kAudi Q3 (532)Mercedes GLA (522)BMW X1 (409)
Medium SUV < $60kToyota RAV4 (3800)Mazda CX-5 (2412)Hyundai Tucson (1995)
Medium SUV > $60kBMW X3 (476)Lexus NX (404)Audi Q5 (318)
SUV Large < $70kToyota Prado (2602)Isuzu MU-X (848)Kia Sorento (796)
SUV Large > $70kBMW X5 (366)Audi Q7 (229)Lexus RX (213)
SUV Upper LargeToyota LandCruiser (1981)Nissan Patrol (440)
SUV Upper Large > $100kBMW X7 (78)Mercedes GLS (59)Audi Q8 (59)

Utes and vans: Top Three in each segment

Vans < 2.5tVW Caddy (158)Renault Kangoo (24)Peugeot Partner (12)
Vans 2.5t-3.5tToyota Hiace (1500)Hyundai iLoad (527)Ford Transit (342)
4x2 UtesToyota HiLux (1184)Isuzu D-Max (562)Ford Ranger (431)
4x4 UtesToyota HiLux (3854)Ford Ranger (3829)Isuzu D-Max (1533)

The market

New-car sales in November 2020 were up by 12.4 per cent compared to the same month last year, with 95,205 vehicles reported as sold. It was the first monthly year-on-year growth after 31 months in a row of decline.

Year-to-date, 821,316 new vehicles have been reported as sold, a decrease of 16.1 per cent compared to the first 11 months of last year.

Seven of the Top 10 brands posted sales increases and market share gains, as supply of new vehicles began to return to normal after production interruptions earlier in the year – and dealers filled orders placed in previous months.

November’s year-on-year increase of 12.4 per cent compared to the same month last year compares to a decline of 1.5 per cent in October, a 21.8 per cent decline in September, 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 best November result in four years (since 101,365 were reported as sold in November 2017). By comparison, October 2020 was the lowest result in 10 years, September was the lowest in 18 years, August tally was the weakest in 23 years, July was an 18-year low, June was the worst in nine years, there was a 23-year low in May, and the April result was the lowest in at least 30 years.

Brands

Toyota remains market leader for November 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 23,204, up 36.9 per cent compared to the same month last year.

Toyota’s November market share increased to 24.4 per cent compared to 24.0 per cent in October, 18.2 per cent in September, 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 four new vehicles sold.

Mazda secured second place with 9053 sales (up 46.8 per cent) but it only had one car in the Top 10.

Hyundai finished in third place, with 6903 new cars reported as sold (up 1.2 per cent).

Top 25 brands for November 2020


Models

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

The Toyota HiLux 4x4 (3854) also narrowly outsold the Ford Ranger 4x4 (3829) in November 2020, reversing the previous month’s finishing order.

Both utes posted big sales gains (Toyota HiLux up 33.0 per cent and Ford Ranger up 22.0 per cent) compared to the same month the prior year.

Toyota dominated again, filling five spots in the Top 10.


Miscellaneous

Sales of electrified vehicles – including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, pure electric – increased by 67.6 per cent, from 4295 in November 2019 to 7200 in November 2020.

However, the growth was once again driven primarily 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 8.7 per cent, from 195 in November 2019 to 178 in November 2020.

Sales of hybrid cars were up by 73.6 per cent, from 3967 sales in November 2019 to 6887 reported as sold in November 2020.

Sales of plug-in hybrid cars remained stable, from 133 sales in November 2019 to 135 reported as sold in November 2020.

The Top 10 was a reflection of our changing taste in cars: three of the top six vehicles were utes and the balance were SUVs, four-wheel-drives and small cars.