* NOW UPDATED with the Top 50 All-brands and Top 318 All-models *
2014 ended up being just an anomaly: the Australian new car market breaks its all time record for the third time in the past four years, going from 1.112.032 sales in 2012, 1.136.227 in 2013 to 1.155.408 this year, up 3.8% on 2014. Accelerating a recent trend, sales of SUV vehicles are up an outstanding 16% to reach 35.4% share (408.471 sales) whereas passenger cars are down 3% to 44.6% share (515.683), light commercials up 0.6% to 17.2% share and heavy commercials up 3% to 2.8% share. A sign of healthy growth, private sales are up 3.7% to 606.770 units (52.5% share), improving only marginally slower than business fleet sales up 4.9% to 414.939 (35.9% share) while rental sales are up 1.5% to 56.938 and government sales down 1.4% to 41.577.
The most popular source for cars is Japan once again at 335.288 imports (+2%) followed by Thailand at 249.804 (+10%), South Korea at 140.172 (+7%), Australia at 97.443 (-3%) and Germany at 87.894 (+5%). State-wise, New South Wales (Sydney) logically leads again and is up by a stunning 7% (380.858) followed by Victoria up 4% (315.389), Queensland up 5% (235.674), Western Australia again hit by the smoothing out of the mining boom and down 8% (106.188) and South Australia down 0.8% (69.047).
Unsurprisingly, Toyota is the best-selling manufacturer in the country for the 13th consecutive year with sales up 1% year-on-year to 206.236 for a 17.8% market share. It is the fourth year in a row and the 11th time in the past 12 years that Toyota sells in excess of 200.000 new vehicles in Australia (record: 238,983 in 2008), keeping in mind it is the only manufacturer to have ever reached that number in the first place. Toyota has now been market leader for a total of 19 years, but 2015 marks only its first year-on-year increase since 2011 and the third since 2008. Toyota increased its annual volume by 25% compared to 15 years ago vs. 29% for the market, so on average the manufacturer is losing a tiny bit of market share each year.
The main event atop the Australian brands ranking for 2015 is the 2nd place of full importer Mazda: it is the first time since the start of the auto industry in Australia that a full importer reaches the Top 2, Australia is the country in the world where Mazda ranks the highest in the brands ranking. The Japanese brand is up a beautiful 13% year-on-year to a record 114.024 sales or 9.9% share, overtaking homegrown Holden for the first time in an annual ranking. Mazda has improved its annual volume by a staggering 77% over the past 15 years. Over the same period of time, Holden has cut its annual volume in two (-51%) in a market up 29%… For Ford the situation is almost unbelievable: -82% between 2000 and 2015 volumes.
In 2017 Australia will transition to being a full importer country when Ford, Holden and Toyota shut down their local factories. Unfortunately Aussie heroes Holden and Ford are already feeling the ire of Australian consumers for “leaving the country” – the only two brands in the Top 13 to lose ground – as many Aussies actually inaccurately believe Ford and Holden won’t be selling any cars in Australia anymore after 2017. Holden is down 3% to 102.951 sales in 2015, owing its third place to artificially boosted December sales. Hyundai, up 2% to 102.004, held the third spot as of end November. Ford drops 12% to #6, falling out of the Top 5 for the first time in the brand’s history, overtaken by Mitsubishi taking advantage of sharper pricing, up 5% to 71.743 sales.
Volkswagen is up a splendid 10% to a record 60.225 sales (a 90% increase over the past 15 years) above Subaru (+5%) while Honda takes off by 22% to 40.100 deliveries thanks to the success of the HR-V. Mercedes (+14%) once again misses out on its first Top 10 ranking since 2003, while Kia (+20%), Audi (+20%), Isuzu Ute (+26%), Land Rover (+16%), Renault (+15%), Lexus (+24%), Skoda (+23%), Porsche (+45%) and Mini (+30%) all post very solid year-on-year gains. Lastly Tesla launched at the start of 2015 but does not share sales data for Australia. We estimate the all-electric luxury manufacturer delivered a stunning 1.250 vehicles in Oz so far (read my Model S review here).
The Toyota Corolla is the best-selling nameplate in Australia for the third year running despite sales down 4% – in line with its segment’s evolution – to 42.073. It actually means the Corolla vastly increases its advantage over its archenemy the Mazda3, itself down 11% to 38.644 as it was partly cannibalised by the smashing success of the CX-3 crossover. The Corolla topped the monthly ranking six times in 2015, the most of any nameplate, while the Mazda3 only did so once. The Corolla is now the third most frequent annual leader in the past 40 years with 3 wins below Aussie legends the Holden Commodore (22) and Ford Falcon (11), and now distancing the Holden Kingswood and Mazda3 (2 each). In third place like in 2013 and 2014, the Toyota Hilux is down 8% but got a significant boost later in the year with the arrival of the new generation: it ranked #1 nationally twice, in May and October, the first full month for the new model. The Hilux finishes 2015 as the best-selling model in QLD, WA and NT.
Hyundai is discreetly aligning record year after record year and reached a new milestone in 2015. The Korean carmaker placed the i30 not once but twice in the national pole position: in June and September thanks to a $19,990 drive-away with free auto promotion. This is the first time a Hyundai manages to become the monthly best-seller in Australia since the Excel ranked first all the way back in June 1998. Better still: with 5.521 sales in June alone, the Hyundai i30 achieved the highest monthly volume of any nameplate in Australia in the past 8 years, since June 2007 when the Toyota Corolla clocked up 5.89o deliveries, and the first model over 5.000 monthly units since December 2008 (Holden Commodore – 5.413 units). Finally let’s point out the i30 is a hatchback-only vehicle that twice beat the hatch+sedan Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla. If Hyundai decides to rename the Elantra as the i30 sedan for Australia, things could get very different in the pole position…
The Ford Ranger is up a very solid 10%, perfectly negotiating the transition to the new generation of the model and breaking into the annual Australian Top 5 for the first time ever at a record 29.185 sales. The Ranger is creeping towards holding no less than half of all Ford sales in the country. The Ranger kicks the Holden Commodore to #6, meaning there is no Australian-made nameplate in the Top 5 for the first time ever. The Commodore held to the 6th spot by the skin of its teeth with a meagre 116 unit-advantage over another Australian-made vehicle: the Toyota Camry, boosted by a stunning #1 ranking in December thanks to 5.321 sales.
Further down, the Mitsubishi Triton (#8), Mazda CX-5 (#9), VW Golf (#10), Holden Colorado (#11), Toyota RAV4 (#12), Nissan X-Trail (#13), Isuzu D-Max (#17), Toyota Kluger (#20) and Mitsubishi ASX (#22) all beat their all-time annual volume in Australia this year. The Mazda CX-3 (#24) is the most popular all-new entrant and an instant blockbuster here, as is the Honda HR-V (#30). These two nameplates are the only all-new models in the Top 50, with the Hyundai Tucson (#63 but #11 in November and December), Land Rover Discovery Sport (#112) and BMW 2 Series Active Tourer (#126) the next best things.
Previous year: Australia 2014: Toyota Corolla holds onto top spot, and The best-sellers State by State
Full Year 2015 Top 50 All-brands and Top 318 All-models vs. Full Year 2014 figures below.