In the first six months of 2021, Australians purchased 567,468 new vehicles. If vehicle supply continues to flow, the industry will achieve more than a million in sales this year.
Selling a million cars seemed impossible at the start of year with the looming threat of rolling state lockdowns and constrained global supply chains. Though looking through a recent VFACTS report, every vehicle segment has increased and the total market is up 28.3% compared to 2020.
It’s no surprise that SUVs and 4X4 dual cab utes are dominating the purchases because it’s been a long-term trend with retail, novated lease and fleet buyers. Combined, these two segments are 70% of the new car market. A decade ago (in 2011), these segments were only 34% of the market.
The Ford Ranger 4X4 was the top selling vehicle in June followed by the Toyota Hilux 4X4 in second, and the new Isuzu D-MAX 4X4 in third place. So far this year, the Ranger is winning the battle of the 4X4 utes but looking at overall sales (including 4X2), the Hilux is in front.
The new D-MAX has helped Isuzu Ute increase sales by 88% in 2021 even with some customers waiting months for deliveries. It’s been popular with fleets as many Colorado buyers easily switched to the new D-MAX which comes with a five-star ANCAP rating.
Isuzu Ute is launching the all-new MU-X large SUV in August. Sales of the old model in runout have been very strong in recent months. So if supply is good for the new model, Isuzu Ute should continue to break sales records in 2021.
In the van market, the Toyota Hiace continues to dominate the segment with a clear lead over the Hyundai iLoad in second place. The current model was launched in 2019 and Toyota lifted the bar with safety technology so it’s now the same level as passenger cars and SUVs. It’s also more pleasant to drive with the front bonnet design.
Hyundai is planning to launch a new model iLoad (depending on supply) in 2021 with futuristic styling that may polarise some van buyers. To attract fleet buyers, the new model will need a five-star ANCAP rating as companies place more focus on the safety standards of light commercials in 2021.
Volkswagen launched the new Transporter T6.1 earlier in 2021 and sales have surpassed total sales in 2020. The new Transporter is packed with active and passive safety technology and is available in a number of variants including a Crew-cab Cab Chassis that is a great alternative the traditional dual-cab ute.
The passenger car segment is up 6.9% (7,800) YTD compared to 2020 and the success of two vehicles has supported the increase. The Kia Picanto is ahead 2,073 while the MG MG3 is up by 4,068 sales. Without these two, passenger vehicles sales would be flat as buyers continue to favour SUVs.
European brands have had mixed success in 2021 with disrupted supply. Volkswagen sales are up 6.6% compared to 2020 thanks to the success of the T-Roc, T-Cross and Polo. They have lost ground with the Golf which has only sold 585 units so far in 2021 compared to 5,901 in the first six months of 2020.
COVID-19 lockdowns make the magic million hard to achieve despite the success in the first half. The industry has proved itself to be resilient during the pandemic, so if the cars are available to sell, dealers will find a way.