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Australia March 2023: Isuzu Ute breaks all records, places D-Max at #3 and MU-X at #10, registrations off -2.7%

The Isuzu MU-X cracks the Australian Top 10 for the first time.

11/04 update: Now with Top 280 All models.

Massive quarantine delays at Australian ports trigger a -2.7% year-on-year drop in new vehicle sales in March to 97,251 units, the 2nd lowest March in the past decade below pandemic-hit March 2020. The issue facing car-carrying ships is the necessity for the cars to be treated for seeds, pests and other biosecurity hazards. While it normally takes 24 hours to unload a ship of 3,000 vehicles, cleaning stations can only treat 150 to 220 vehicles in 24 hours. As a result ships have been waiting to offload vehicles for months. In this context as well as continuing parts shortages, this month’s result is actually quite strong. It takes the first quarter volume to 269,002 units, up 2.5% over the same period in 2022. 

In a worrying sign, sales to private buyers are down -7% year-on-year to 51,176, while business fleets edge up 0.8% to 34,072. Rental sales sink -13.5% to 4,840 and government fleets are off -0.2% to 2,632. SUV sales are up a further 5.2% to 53,526 units and 55% share vs. 50.3% in March 2022, Light Commercials skid -9% to 22,012 and 22.6% share vs. 23.9% a year ago and Passenger cars sink -21.9% to 17,182 and 17.7% share vs. 21.7% last year. Heavy commercials stand at 4,531 sales and 4.7% share.

The Isuzu D-Max equals its ranking record at #3.

Looking at sales by region, New South Wales is down -6.1% year-on-year to 30,256 sales, Victoria down -11.2% to 24,107, Queensland up 4.9% to 22,244, Western Australia up 1.1% to 10,129, South Australia up 2.6% to 6,543, Tasmania down -8.4% to 1,620, ACT up 1% to 1,576 and Northern Territory down -15.3% to 776. Sales by alimentation show Petrol down -0.1% to 50,229 sales, Diesel off -9.9% to 30,063, BEV up 19.5% to 6,612, HEV down -29.8% to 5,247 and PHEV up 33.3% to 569. As far as provenance is concerned, Japan leads the way again at 25,538 sales (-21.5%), followed by Thailand at 21,729 (-9.6%), China at 15,125 (+31.1%) for the first time eclipsing South Korea at 12,771 (-2%), and Germany at 4,796 (+28.6%).

Toyota (-39.4%) is hit full frontal by stock shortages and quarantine issues and drops to an unusually low 13.6% share vs. 21.6% in March 2022. This is the Japanese carmaker’s weakest share in at least a decade, with its previous low being 14.8% in January 2016. Mazda (-26.6%) is also in freefall in 2nd place at 8.5% share vs. 9.4% over the First Quarter. Ford (+52.8%) posts a splendid uptick to hold onto the third spot, only 82 sales above Kia (+5.8%). Mitsubishi (-34.9%) and Hyundai (-17.6%) both skid below. Isuzu Ute (+37.1%) is up three spots on January to break all its records: ranking (#7), volume (4,534) and share (4.7%). Its previous bests are #8 (July 2021, September 2021, March 2022 and April 2022), 3,964 (June 2021) and 4% (July 2021).

The Mitsubishi Outlander is the best-selling SUV in Australia for the first time

MG (+1.1%) may have plateaued at #8 while Subaru (+69%) scoring the largest gain in the Top 10. Tesla (+15.5%) rounds out the Top 10 above Volkswagen (+22.7%) also in great shape and Nissan (+7.4%) more timid but still swimming upstream. GWM soars 268% year-on-year to #13, scoring a record volume at 3,338 (previous best 3,295 in December 2022). Mini (+164.2%), Ssangyong (+147%), Polestar (+84.3%), BMW (+56.7%), Audi (+49.4%), Ram (+46.8%), LDV (+40.9%) and Lexus (+32.5%) also defy the negative market with splendid gains. Newcomers BYD (#21) and Cupra (#30) camp on their February ranking.

Over in the models ranking, the Toyota Hilux (-27.5%) reclaims the overall top spot for the first time since last November after three months of domination by the Ford Ranger (+52.3%). Only 75 units separate the two vehicles though and the Ranger easily keeps the  YTD pole position with 5.1% share vs. 4.7% for the Hilux. The Ranger still dominates the lucrative 4×4 pickup race with 3,877 units for the month vs. 3,480 for the Hilux. The Isuzu D-Max (+14%) ensures the podium is 100% pickup this month, equalling its ranking record at #3 (also hit in June 2021). The Mitsubishi Outlander (+34%) breaks its ranking record for the second month in a row, lifting it to #4 and becoming the best-selling SUV in the country for the first time.

The Subaru Forester is up to a record 7th place.

The Tesla Model Y is up 21 ranks on February to #5 and #2 SUV, followed by the Mazda CX-5 (-49.2%) and Subaru Forester (+162.3%) boosted by availability of the new generation to equal its ranking record at #7, also hit in October 2018. The MG ZS (+5%) drops one spot to #8 ahead of the Toyota RAV4 (-61.4%) hit by supply constraints. The Isuzu MU-X (+103.1%) breaks into the Australian Top 10 for the first time at #10. This means for the first time in Australian history there are no conventional passenger cars (hatches, sedans and wagons) in the Top 10, with the best-selling PC being the Tesla Model 3 at #11 ahead of the Hyundai i30 (#13) and MG 3 (#14).

Previous month: Australia February 2023: Market up 1.8% despite quarantine bottleneck, Ford Ranger threepeats at #1

One year ago: Australia March 2022: Tesla Model 3 lands at #5 in market up 1.2%

Full March 2023 Top 47 All brands and Top 280 All models below.

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