Quick Stats

  • There was 1.153 million new cars sold in Australia in 2018
  • New car sales in Australia dropped 3% from 2017, down from 1.187 million
  • Toyota was the top-selling car brand in 2018 with 217,061 total sales
  • SUV’s made up 43% of all new car sales in 2018
  • Australia had 48.2 new car sales per 1,000 people

New car sales

From 2011 through to 2018 a total of 9.268 million new cars were sold in Australia. On average, the new car market has seen year or year growth from 2011 onwards, however from 2017 to 2018 a decline in sales numbers was observed for the first time since 2014. As of December 2018, there was a decrease of 15,292 vehicle sales or roughly 14.9% on sales in December 2017 which equates to roughly 637 less vehicles sales per day6.

It is anticipated that new car sales will continue to decline. A new report shows that the number of Australians planning to buy a new vehicle in the next four years is down 19.1% on a similar report released the previous year1 around car buying intentions in Australia. The chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries in Australia attributed the decline in sales to a tougher economy, a slowing house market, the drought and a tightening of money lending. One study10 suggests that for every 10 per cent drop in houses a corresponding 10 per cent drop in car sales could be expected, given that people will have less equity in their homes to refinance against.

Types of passenger vehicles sold by type

Types of commercial vehicles sold by type

SUV’s, or Sports Utility Vehicles, were the top selling type of vehicle in Australia in 2018, capturing 43% of the total sales. Up until 2017, passenger vehicles had been the dominant vehicle type sold in Australia for over 15 years. From 2017 onwards, SUV sales have been outstripping passenger vehicle sales, with passenger vehicles sales making up less than a third (32.8%) of total new car sales for the very first time in 2018.

Overall, passenger vehicles sales were down 26.3% on the same month of the previous year, the Sports Utility Market was down by 7%, the Light Commercial Vehicle Market was down by 12.5% and the Heavy Commercial Vehicle Market was down 0.7% on the previous year, demonstrating an overall slump in all vehicle types5.

Top 10 selling car brands in Australia 2018

Toyota has taken out the number one spot as brand leader for the 16th year in a row making up 18.8% of total new car sales for 2018. The second highest selling brand, Mazda, made up only 9.7% of the total new car sales, nearly half of the total Toyota sales, demonstrating the monopoly Toyota has over the Australia car market.

Holden recorded only 60,751 new car sales in 2018, down 32% on the previous year as a result of the halt in production in 2017. This decline will only continue as the last remaining stock is cleared out with no new models to come. The top ten selling car brands make up 75% of the total new car sales in Australia.

Top 10 selling new cars in Australia 2018

Rank Make and model Number of cars sold
#1 Toyota HiLux 51,705
#2 Ford Ranger 42,94
#3 Toyota Corolla 35,320
#4 Mazda 3 31,065
#5 Hyundai i30 28,188
#6 Mazda CX-5 26,173
#7 Mitsubishi Triton 24,896
#8 Toyota RAV4 22,165
#9 Nissan X-Trail 21,192
#10 Volkswagen Golf 19,076

Toyota had 3 of the top 10 best selling cars in Australia in 2018, with the Toyota HiLux performing top of the charts with 51,705 sales, making up a healthy 5% of the total new car sales in Australia.

Number of passenger vehicles sold by state

New South Wales saw the most new car sales in Australia with 33.5% of all sales. Given that New South Wales is home to 31.9% of the population, on average, they are buying more cars than other states with 50.4 new car sales per 1,000 people. The average age of motor vehicles in New South Wales is 9.5 years, below the Australian average of 10.1 years.

Victoria was second in the most amount of new car sales with 28.4% of all new car sales. The population of Victoria makes up 25.9% of the total Australian population, meaning they too bought more cars on average with 53.7 new car sales per 1,000 people. The average age of motor vehicles in Victoria is 10.1 years, the Australian average.

Queensland had the third highest car sales in Australia with 19.6% of all new car sales. The population of Queensland makes up 20.1% of the total Australian population and saw below average sales per capita, with 46.9 new car sales per 1,000 people. The average age of motor vehicles in Queensland is 9.9 years, below the Australian average.

South Australia had 6.1% of new car sales in Australia and makes up 6.9% of the Australian population. Per capita, South Australia had 42.2 new car sales per 1,000 people, well below the Australian average. The average age of motor vehicles in South Australia is 11.5 years, above the Australian average of 10.1.

Western Australia had 8.3% of the total new car sales in Australia and makes up 10.4% of the total Australian population. Western Australia had 36.7 new car sales per 1,000 people, the lowest new car sales per capita in Australia. The average age of motor vehicles in Western Australia is 11 years, above the Australian average.

Tasmania had 1.7% of new car sales of the total sales in Australia and makes up 2.1% of the total population of Australia. Tasmania bought less cars on average with 38 new car sales per 1,000 people. The average age of motor vehicles in Tasmania is 12.8 years, well above the Australian average.

The Northern Territory had the least new car sales in Australia, the sales making up only 0.9% of the total new car sales in Australia. The Northern Territory is home to just 1% of the total Australian population, and had 43.5 new car sales per 1,000 people. The average age of motor vehicles in the Northern Territory is 9.4 years, the lowest age in Australia.

The Australian Capital Territory had 1.5% of the total new car sales in Australia and makes up only 1.7% of the total Australian population. Per capita, The Australian Capital Territory had 45.6 new car sales per 1,000 people. The average age of motor vehicles in the Australian Capital Territory is 9.4 years, the lowest age in Australia.9

Number of passenger vehicles sold by month

July saw the most car sales for the year, capturing 100,027 sales or 8.4% of the total new car sales for 2018. June saw the second highest sales for 2018 with 99,925 sales. This is one of the busiest times for purchasing a new car as a result of the end of the financial year and tax return time.

The months with the least amount of sales were January and February with 96,747 and 96,915 sales respectively. Decreases in sales around this time of year are generally attributed to the post Christmas and holiday slump.9

Used car sales

Australia does not currently track used car sales in the same fashion as new car sales. Manheim released a report4 in 2015 that estimated that the number of used car sales in Australia to be around 3 million units per year.

Hybrid/electric vehicles

2018 saw a big year for electric car sales within Australia, with 1352 cars registered for the year. This however, only makes up 0.3% of total car sales within Australia in 2018. Unfortunately Tesla do not release their official sales number making it hard to predict just how many Tesla cars are sold in Australia and the combined total of electric car sales.

Interest and intention to purchase hybrid vehicle has spiked over the last year, with 10.1% of individuals considering a hybrid engine in the next four years as opposed to 5.6% in 20181.

International comparison (cars per capita in 2018, per 1000 people)

Australia has one of the highest rates of cars per capita in the world. Given our relatively small population of 25.18 million people, we have 19.2 million registered vehicles, meaning we have 776 vehicles per 1000 people7.

While countries like China might have significantly higher raw counts of vehicles, with over 300 million registered vehicles, when you take into account their population of 1.3 billion people, their cars per capita is much lower at just 219 cars per 1000 people8.

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