A record number of new vehicles were sold in Australia in 2017 with SUVs and pick-ups driving the growth.
According to official VFACTS figures, 1,189,116 vehicles were registered, surpassing last year’s all-time record of 1,178,133 vehicles by nearly 11,000 units, or 0.9 per cent.
The year finished off with a record 102,820 sales in December, the eighth record month of 2017.
For an incredible 15th straight year and the 21st time overall, Toyota was the biggest selling brand — growing faster than the market at 3.3 per cent to sell 216,566 vehicles.
It had three vehicles in the top 10 sellers including the market-leading HiLux pick-up for the second straight year, the Corolla small car and the Camry medium sedan.
Mazda was a distant second with 116,349 sales, with the Mazda3 small car and CX-5 medium SUV in the top 10.
Half the brands in the top 10 actually lost sales in 2017, including former market leader Holden which continued its slide, dipping another 4.2 per cent to 90,306 sales and 7.6 per cent of the market.
That’s the lowest Holden market share ever and would have been worse except more than 25 per cent of Astra small car 2017 registrations were recorded in December.
Worryingly, the now out of production Australian-made Commodore was Holden’s biggest seller for the year.
Kia was a star performer with 28 per cent growth while Mercedes-Benz increased its lead over arch-rivals Audi and BMW in the battle of the luxury brands.
For the first time SUVs outsold passenger cars in the Australian market, growing 5.6 per cent year-on-year to 465,646. That growth was driven by the small and medium segments, the latter growing 13.6 per cent.
Passenger car sales slipped 7.5 per cent to 450,012, with the once-dominant large car segment falling 16.7 per cent and upper large cars by 40.1 per cent. Only the tiny people-mover segment grew.
Meanwhile light commercials, dominated by the booming 4×4 crew cab pick-up market, grew 8.6 per cent to 236,609 sales.
“The shift in industry dynamic we observed last year has now become entrenched in our market. It is a growth pattern that we expect will continue,” Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries Chief Executive Tony Weber said.
He forecast another record in 2018, although he said it would “not be substantial”.
The biggest growth market of all in percentage terms was the relatively small heavy truck segment, which grew 11.8 per cent to 36,849 sales.
Reflecting the death of local manufacturing, just 3839 Australia-built cars were sold in December and 56,851 for the year. The biggest imported vehicle source was Japan (341,663) followed by commercial vehicle hub Thailand (297,482).
NSW had the biggest sales share at 397,273, but was static compared to 2016. Victoria, at 339,343, was plus four per cent and the biggest growth market. Western Australia slipped 2.5 per cent to 97,773.
In December HiLux was the biggest selling model ahead of the Astra, with the Ford Ranger, Holden Colorado and Mazda3 rounding out the top five.
Top 10 brands (2016 finish in brackets):
Toyota — 216,566 +3.3% (1)
Mazda — 116,349 -1.6% (2)
Hyundai — 97,013 -4.5% (3)
Holden — 90,306 -4.2% (4)
Mitsubishi — 80,654 +9.9% (6)
Ford — 78,161 -3.8% (5)
Volkswagen — 58,004 +2.5% (8)
Nissan — 56,594 -15.3% (7)
Kia — 54,737 +28.3% (10)
Subaru — 52,511 +11.7% (9)
Top 10 cars 2017:
Toyota HiLux – 47,093
Ford Ranger – 42,728
Toyota Corolla – 37,353
Mazda3 – 32,690
Hyundai i30 – 28,780
Mazda CX-5 – 25,831
Hyundai Tucson – 23,828
Holden Commodore – 23,676
Toyota Camry – 23,620
Mitsubishi Triton – 23,605