VFACTS 2023: No passenger cars in annual Top 10 for the first time

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For the first time in recorded Australian automotive history, no vehicle in the 10 best-selling vehicles last year was a hatchback, sedan or wagon – a sign of our changing taste in cars.


No traditional ‘passenger cars’ – hatchbacks, sedans, wagons, coupes or people movers – finished among the 10 top-selling new motor vehicles in Australia in 2023 for the first time on record.

Just 17.4 per cent of new vehicle sales reported in Australia last year were passenger cars, data released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries shows – down from 18.8 per cent in 2022.

SUVs accounted for a record 55.8 per cent of new motor vehicles sold – up from 53.1 per cent the prior year – followed by a 22.5 per cent share for utes and vans, with heavy trucks (4.3 per cent) completing the total.

Seven of the 10 best-selling models last year were SUVs – from city runabouts to heavy-duty four-wheel-drives – and three were utes.

In 2022, two passenger cars finished in the Top 10 – the Toyota Corolla small hatch and sedan in sixth with 25,284 deliveries, and the Hyundai i30 small hatch and sedan in ninth with 21,166 deliveries.

In 2023, the Corolla slipped to 12th and the i30 dropped to 11th, with sales of the vehicles declining by 21 per cent and 2.6 per cent respectively compared to the prior year.

It means the Toyota Corolla has lost its title of the top-selling passenger car it has held for 10 years in a row.

After ending the Toyota Camry’s 28-year winning streak in the mid-size sedan category in 2022 – and placing as high as third in some months last year – the Tesla Model 3 electric car finished 2023 in 14th place on the sales charts, amid a changeover from old to new models.

It still outsold the Toyota Camry, posting 17,347 sales for the US electric car, to the Japanese vehicle’s 10,581.

Last year no more than two passenger cars finished in the Top 10 in a given month, as a mix of the Toyota Corolla hatch and sedan, Hyundai i30 hatch and sedan, Tesla Model 3 electric sedan and MG 3 city hatch.

There were no passenger cars in the Top 10 for the first time in March 2023 – followed by October 2023.

Two decades ago (2003) nine of the Top 10 sellers were passenger cars, and the remaining vehicle – the Ford Falcon ute – is a tray-backed derivative of a family sedan, rather than a heavy-duty ladder-frame vehicle akin to today’s Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger top-selling utes.

A decade ago the Toyota Corolla was Australia’s best-selling new car, ahead of the Mazda 3 – though the Toyota HiLux was close behind in third, and would take the top position in 2016.

Five years ago there were three passenger cars in the Top 10, the Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3 and Hyundai i30, in third, fourth and fifth positions respectively – followed by the Volkswagen Golf in 11th.

There were three utes in the Top 10 in 2018 – the Toyota HiLux in first, Ford Ranger in second and Mitsubishi Triton in seventh – plus four SUVs, comprised of the Mazda CX-5 in sixth, Toyota RAV4 in eighth, Nissan X-Trail in ninth and Hyundai Tucson in 10th.

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Sales of passenger cars increased per cent in 2023 to 211,361 – but in a market up 12.5 per cent, as buyers continue to move to SUVs in growing numbers, and car makers increasingly withdraw from the hatchback and sedan market.

It compares to 679,462 SUV sales (up 18.2 per cent), and 274,185 ‘light commercial vehicle’ (ute and van) sales, up 6.9 per cent.

Sales of SUVs overtook passenger cars in the annual sales race in 2017 – followed by utes and vans in 2020 – with SUVs accounting for more than 50 per cent of new vehicles sold for the first time in 2021.

TOP 10 CARS IN FULL-YEAR 2023

Rank Model Volume Full-Year 2023 Change year-on-year
1 Ford Ranger 63,356 up 33.4 per cent
2 Toyota HiLux 61,111 down 5.1 per cent
3 Isuzu D-Max 31,202 up 28.2 per cent
4 Toyota RAV4 29,627 down 15 per cent
5 MG ZS 29,258 up 30.2 per cent
6 Tesla Model Y 28,769 up 230 per cent
7 Mitsubishi Outlander 24,263 up 24.1 per cent
8 Mazda CX-5 23,083 down 14.7 per cent
9 Hyundai Tucson 21,224 up 18.8 per cent
10 Toyota Prado 20,710 down 1.9 per cent

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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