VFACTS 2023: Chinese car sales break records, overtake South Korea for first calendar year

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China is now Australia’s third-largest source of new vehicles after overtaking South Korea for the first full calendar year – and every Chinese brand has reported record sales.

Australians bought a record number of motor vehicles manufactured in China in 2023 – more than a third of which were electric – as sales overtook vehicles built in South Korea for the first time in a calendar year.

Data published by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries today reports 193,433 vehicles made in China as sold in Australia last year – an increase of 57.5 per cent on 2022 sales (122,845).

China is now the third-largest source of new vehicles in Australia, accounting for 15.9 per cent of the total – behind Japan (28.4 per cent) and Thailand (21.7 per cent) – after overtaking South Korea (13.3 per cent).

It is the first time in a calendar year sales of new vehicles from China have outnumbered of those from South Korea – and finished in third place overall – after doing so for the first time in a given month in October 2022.

China was the fourth-largest source of new vehicles in Australia in 2021 and 2022 – overtaking Germany and the US – up from sixth in 2020, eighth in 2019, and 12th in 2018.

The rapid growth in sales of Chinese-made cars has traditionally been driven by domestic brands MG, Great Wall Motors (GWM) Haval and LDV.

However over the past 18 months it has been bolstered with a growing number of Chinese-made electric vehicles – including Tesla, which accounted for close to a quarter of the 2023 total, Chinese electric-car specialist BYD, and models from Volvo and Polestar – plus the return of Chery.

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MG – part of the Chinese state-owned SAIC group – was the top seller of the Chinese brands, finishing the year in seventh place, matching its ranking last year, and up from ninth in 2021 and 30th in 2017.

It reported 58,346 deliveries – up 17.7 per cent, much of which came from two new models, the MG 4 electric hatchback and MG 5 petrol sedan, which contributed 5532 of the 8764 additional sales in 2023.

The MG ZS was the fifth best-selling new vehicle overall – and the top-selling small SUV for the third year in the row – while the MG 3 city hatch was the top-selling “light car under $30,000” for the third year in a row.

Updated Tesla Model 3.

Tesla was the second-largest manufacturer of Chinese-made cars – even though it is a US company – with 46,116 deliveries reported, up 135 per cent on 2022’s performance, for eighth place on the sales charts.

It was split across 28,769 Model Y SUVs (up 230 per cent) – the sixth best-selling new vehicle overall – and 17,347 Model 3 sedans (up 59.5 per cent).

It is estimated more than a third of Chinese-made cars sold in Australia last year were electric – compared to 7 per cent for the entire market.

Following in 13th on the leaderboard was GWM, reporting 36,397 sales – up 45.3 per cent – led by a record 11,252 deliveries of the GWM Haval Jolion small SUV.

GWM Tank 300.

GWM finished in eighth place in December 2023 – ahead of MG in ninth – following strong sales for the GWM Haval Jolion, which was the second-best selling model in the “small SUV under $45,000” category.

Ute and van specialist LDV – which is owned by SAIC but distributed by an independent company in Australia – followed in 16th with 21,298 sales, up 30.9 per cent from 2022’s result of 16,269 deliveries.

The GWM Ute – with 9616 deliveries, up from 7806 in 2022 – was the top-selling Chinese ute, ahead of the LDV T60 ute (9106), which was the company’s top seller.

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LDV T60.

Electric-car specialist BYD – now the world’s largest manufacturer of solely electric vehicles – reported 12,438 deliveries in 2023, up 489 per cent, though it didn’t start selling mass-produced cars until the second half of 2022.

The tally includes 11,042 BYD Atto 3 small SUVs, which for most of the year was the company’s only model – as the Dolphin small hatch (942 sales) and Seal sedan (471 sales) arrived late in the year.

Deliveries of 5890 vehicles were reported for Chinese brand Chery, which returned to Australia in 2023 after an eight-year absence.

Chery sold cars here from 2011 to 2015, but left amid poor crash test results, and a recall to remove asbestos found in its vehicles. The company’s two new models have five-star ANCAP safety ratings.

Other Chinese-made cars sold in Australia include the Polestar 2 electric car (2463 sales), Volvo XC40 Recharge and C40 Recharge electric SUVs, and BMW iX3 electric SUV.

Country of origin 2018 sales 2019 sales 2020 sales 2021 sales 2022 sales 2023 sales
Japan 356,230 341,663 309,601 350,934 330,061 345,071
Thailand 300,274 297,482 213,456 230,520 245,608 264,253
China 10,489 (11th) 17,957 (7th) 30,696 (6th) 76,262 (4th) 122,845 (4th) 193,433 (3rd)
South Korea 169,315 175,802 123,725 145,025 159,244 161,614
Country of origin 2018 market share 2019 market share 2020 market share 2021 market share 2022 market share 2023 market share
Japan 30.9 per cent 28.7 per cent 33.8 per cent 33.4 per cent 30.5 per cent 28.4 per cent
Thailand 26.0 per cent 25.0 per cent 23.3 per cent 22.0 per cent 22.7 per cent 21.7 per cent
China 0.9 per cent 1.7 per cent 3.3 per cent 7.3 per cent 11.4 per cent 15.9 per cent
South Korea 14.7 per cent 14.8 per cent 13.5 per cent 13.8 per cent 14.7 per cent 13.3 per cent

MG sales in Australia

  • 2023 – 58,346, 7th outright in sales
  • 2022 – 49,582, 7th outright in sales
  • 2021 – 39,025, 9th outright in sales
  • 2020 – 15,253, 17th outright in sales
  • 2019 – 8326, 21st outright in sales
  • 2018 – 3007, 30th outright in sales

Great Wall Motors Haval sales in Australia

  • 2023 – 36,397, 13th outright in sales
  • 2022 – 25,042, 13th outright in sales
  • 2021 – 18,384, 14th outright in sales
  • 2020 – 5235, 27th outright in sales
  • 2019 – 3107, 31st outright in sales
  • 2018 – 1417, 36th outright in sales

LDV sales in Australia

  • 2023 – 21,298, 16th outright in sales
  • 2022 – 16,269, 17th outright in sales
  • 2021 – 15,188, 18th outright in sales
  • 2020 – 9323, 18th outright in sales
  • 2019 – 6480, 25th outright in sales
  • 2018 – 6064, 24th outright in sales

BYD sales in Australia

  • 2023 – 12,438, 21st outright in sales
  • 2022 – 2113, 32nd outright in sales

Chery sales in Australia

  • 2023 – 5890, 29th outright in sales

Source: Drive.com.au data centre.

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020.

Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines at a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

Read more about Alex MisoyannisLinkIcon

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