VFACTS: Utes, SUVs lead booming car market

2016 Toyota Hilux - VFACTS 2016 champion

UTES and SUVs are the darlings of a record 2016 market that saw 1,178,133 new vehicles sold.

Utes accounted for 16.2 percent of the new-vehicle market with 190,768 sold, making them the second biggest category behind small cars (224,450), which dropped 3.7 percent in an ongoing trend away from traditional hatches, sedans and wagons.

The ute charge was led by the Toyota Hilux, which topped the charts with 42,104 sales, almost 700 more than its showroom stablemate, the Corolla.

It’s the first time a ute has led the sales race, with the Hilux eclipsing its previous best second place in 2012.

Of the top 10 selling vehicles, three were utes, two were SUVs, and the remaining five traditional passenger cars (sedans, wagons and hatchbacks).

Hilux Rear

Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing, Tony Cramb, said the Hilux’s rise to sales leadership was a result of a significant shift in the ute segment.

“The buyer profile has changed dramatically in recent years, with Hilux progressively offering the upmarket features and comfort demanded by families while maintaining its traditional popularity among tradespeople as the consummate workhorse,” said Cramb.

Reinforcing the shift to top-of-the-line dual-cab 4x4 models it was the flagship SR5 that was the top selling Hilux, trumping models less than half its price.

“As recently as 2011, the biggest-selling variant was the 4x2 single cab-chassis in tough-as-nails Workmate trim – a vehicle where ‘air-conditioning’ meant you opened the windows,” Cramb said.

“While demand for that variant has not diminished, and air-conditioning has been made standard, we now sell almost twice as many top-of-the-range 4x4 SR5 double cabs.”

Ranger Water

But the Hilux wasn’t without its pressures, with Ford’s Ranger (above) hot on its heels all year. Having led most of the year in the 4x4 segment Toyota pipped its Ford rival with a big sales push in December.

But it wasn’t just utes changing the shape of the Australian car market.

Making life increasingly tougher for passenger cars – including the small ones – is the boom in SUV sales, which saw the high riding wagons post 441,017 sales accounting for a record 37.4 percent of the market.

The chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Tony Weber, said it was indicative of major market shifts.

“It’s an intriguing and exciting time for industry watchers as there’s little doubt we are observing a significant and dynamic transition in consumer preference,” he said.

“While buyer demand for traditional passenger cars remains healthy, it’s clear consumers are gradually transitioning into other segments.”

CX-5 Driving

For the first time two SUVs finished in the list of top 10 sellers for the year.

While it was only eighth outright on the sales charts the CX-5 (24,564) was the best-selling SUV, trumping the Hyundai Tucson (20,132) in 10th overall.

The once dominant top seller, the Holden Commodore, posted a respectable tally of 25,860 vehicles, enough to keep it in seventh spot on the sales charts.

Holden Commodore

However, the Commodore was beaten for the first time by the Toyota Camry, a car dominant in the mid-size four-cylinder market – a market Holden is hoping to capitalise on with its first imported Commodore, arriving in February 2018.

In its final year on sale, the Ford Falcon sold just 4434 units, a 25.3 percent drop on 2015.

Top 10 selling brands for 2016

  • Toyota - 209,610
  • Mazda - 118,217
  • Hyundai - 101,555
  • Holden - 94,308
  • Ford - 81,207
  • Mitsubishi - 73,368
  • Nissan - 66,826
  • Volkswagen - 56,571
  • Subaru - 47,018
  • Kia - 42,668


Top 10 selling cars for 2016

  • Toyota Hilux - 42,104
  • Toyota Corolla - 40,330
  • Hyundai i30 - 37,772
  • Ford Ranger - 36,934
  • Mazda3 - 36,107
  • Toyota Camry - 26,485
  • Holden Commodore - 25,860
  • Mazda CX-5 - 24,564  
  • Mitsubishi Triton - 21,987  
  • Hyundai Tucson - 20,132  

Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries

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