Australians hit a record new car sales result

by Petrol Mum
Ford Ranger Wildtrak V6 Diesel in Snowy Mountains

For a data loving car enthusiast like me the release of the annual new car sales figures by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), VFACTS Service is like having another Christmas celebration within a week of the last.

It was a record-breaking year in 2023 with a total of 1,216,780 new vehicles delivered during the year, the previous highest sales result of 1,189,116 was achieved in 2017. Toyota was once again the top selling car brand with 17.7% of the market, followed by Mazda with 8.2% and Ford moving up to third place with 7.2%.

The result for Ford is down largely to the Ford Ranger, which was the top selling vehicle in Australia for 2023 with 63,356 units sold. The Ranger, designed and engineered by Ford’s Australian team in Melbourne and Geelong, has everything you could want, from a ute and even a family car.

With sustained high demand, and to overcome an industry-wide backlog due to port congestion, in 2023 Ford Australia took the extraordinary step of signing an exclusive deal to charter Grand Quest, a ship dedicated to transporting both Ranger and Everest from the factory in Thailand to Australia and New Zealand. This enabled the company to deliver thousands of Rangers to customers across the country.

In 2022 there was a decrease in petrol-powered vehicle sales by 5% and diesel-powered vehicle sales were stable. In 2023 the sale of petrol vehicles has bounced back by 6.7% and overall, they account for 50.5% of all new passenger, SUV, and light commercial vehicle sales. Diesel vehicles sales have increased by 5% in 2023.

This year is the first full 12-month period that Tesla sales have been recorded in VFACTS and the company placed eighth overall in the standings. Sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) have more than doubled in Australia and now account for 7.5% of all new passenger, SUV, and light commercial sales.

Range Rover Evoque R-Dynamic HSE P300e battery info

Hybrid vehicle sales have increased by more than 20% taking their overall market share to 8.4%. The Toyota RAV4 would be contributing significantly to this result as it was the fourth most popular vehicle sold in Australia in 2023 and the first SUV behind three utes, the Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux, and Isuzu Ute D-Max. Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicle sales almost doubled in 2023 and they now account for 1.0% of all new passenger, SUV, and light commercial sales in Australia.

A report commissioned by Deloitte in 2023, surveying 26,000 consumers in 24 different countries looked at the big changes and matters that are of vital importance to automotive consumers. Asking consumers which type of engine they prefer for their next vehicle purchase, a majority of Australians (54%) expressed that they would still buy an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle over all other types. This is down from over two-thirds (68%) preferring ICE vehicles in last year’s survey. Twenty per cent said they would prefer a Hybrid Electric, a 12% said a Plug-In Hybrid, with only 8% saying they would buy a fully battery-powered electric vehicle.

The electric vehicle discount, together with increased new supply and consumer interest, have been instrumental in breaking annual sales records for EVs, according to the National Automotive Leasing and Salary Packaging Association (NALSPA). NALSPA chief executive Rohan Martin said the federal government’s EV Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) exemption has been a game-changer for everyday working Australians considering the switch to zero or low emissions cars. NALSPA data of the top five BEV and PHEV vehicles purchased through novated leases since the commencement of the EV FBT exemption shows some of the more affordable models are proving to be popular.

Top BEVs via novated leasesTop PHEVs via novated leases
1. Model Y (Tesla)1. HS + EV or HS Plus EV (MG)
2. Model 3 (Tesla) 2. Eclipse Cross (Mitsubishi)
3. Atto 3 (BYD) 3. CX-60 (Mazda)
4. ZS EV (MG)4. Outlander (Mitsubishi)
5. XC40 (Volvo) 5. Sorento (Kia)

Source: NALSPA, data to 30 September 2023

The size of the vehicles sold in Australia tells the story that you have probably already noticed on the streets with the a decline in micro, light, and small passenger vehicles being sold and an increase in large SUV sales. SUVs and light commercials accounted for 78.4% of sales and comprise all the top 10 vehicles sold in 2023.

Despite the increased sales of electric and hybrid vehicles in 2022, the National average emissions intensity for new passenger and light commercial vehicles for that year actually increased very slightly by 0.1 %. It will be interesting to see if the 2023 emissions intensity data actually shows a reduction in emissions intensity considering increased the EV sales and the increased sales of medium and large vehicles?

The sales results for the luxury European marques in 2023 were varied with Audi up 29.2% and BMW up 15.4%, while Mercedes-Benz cars was down by 9.3%. Jaguar recorded another year of decline, this time by 17%, but the other half of the JLR brand, Land Rover, recorded a 93.8% increase thanks to the popularity of the Defender and Range Rover Sport. Lexus also recorded a big turnaround with a more than doubling of their sales in 2023 with the Lexus NX proving to be the most popular with their customers.

Luxury marques fared well in 2023 with Aston Martin up 18.9% with an almost 50/50 split between their coupes and their SUV, the DBX. Bentley were up by 12.8% again with an almost 50/50 split between coupe and their SUV, the Bentayga. Maserati were up7.4 % thanks almost entirely to sales of their new SUV the Grecale. Rolls-Royce recorded an 18.3 % reduction in sales with just 49 Rolls-Royce finding a new home in 2023.

McLaren Artura unlock

McLaren had the greatest increase in sales among the supercar players in 2023 delivering 85 vehicles, up by 39.3%. Lamborghini had another good year as well, up 36.9% with 241 new raging bulls gracing our streets with the coupes outselling their Urus SUV by two to one. Ferrari had a solid performance with an increase of 5.9 % and 215 new vehicles deliver for the year.   

Looking ahead, FCAI Chief Executive, Tony Weber expressed optimism about the industry’s future in 2024 while acknowledging potential challenges.

“This is a tremendously exciting time for the industry.  Consumers have a wide choice of vehicles available to meet their work, recreation and family needs that come equipped with the latest advancements in engine technology, safety features and advanced driving, navigation and entertainment aids.

As we celebrate this historic achievement, we recognise that the automotive sector will face challenges in the coming months. Cost-of-living pressures and increased interest rates will impact the market, and we anticipate a challenging 2024.”

Delving into the figures there are already signs that cost-of-living pressures are biting with sales to private buyers increasing the least amount by buyer type in 2023. Also, percentage sales increases of less expensive vehicles from Chinese companies like MG, BYD, LDV and Great Wall Motors, continue to grow at a rate much higher than the average increase that has been seen in 2023.  

MG vehicles are not only cheap to purchase they also can be cheap to maintain with the RACV’s Annual Car Running Costs Survey revealing Victoria’s cheapest car to own and operate is the MG3 Core light Hatch, taking out the top spot for a third year in a row, with monthly costs of $746.01. The MG ZS Excite Standard Range RWD was named the cheapest electric vehicle to own and operate at $1,172.76 per month.

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.

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