VFACTS December 2023: New-car sales set record, Ford Ranger defeats Toyota HiLux

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The Ford Ranger is Australia’s new top-selling motor vehicle – ending the Toyota HiLux’s seven-year winning streak – as the new-car market broke the 1.2 million mark for the first time.


More than 1.2 million new motor vehicles were reported as sold in Australia last year – for the first time in our motoring history – after production and vehicle arrivals caught up with record demand in the wake of the pandemic.

And in a major upset for Toyota – which remained the Number One brand for the 21st year in a row – the Ford Ranger ute ended the Toyota HiLux’s seven-year winning streak as Australia’s top-selling new vehicle.

It is the first time a Ford motor vehicle has led the annual sales charts since the Ford Falcon EF beat the Holden Commodore VR/VS in 1995.

Figures published today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries today report 1,216,780 new motor vehicles as sold in 2023, an increase of 12.5 per cent on the prior year.

It is up 2.3 per cent on the previous record of 1,189,116 cars set in 2017 – and the 15th time in the past 17 years more than 1 million new vehicles have been reported as sold in a calendar year in Australia.

In December 2023, 98,544 new vehicles were reported as sold – up 12.1 per cent on the same month in 2022, but down 4.2 per cent on the December record of 102,820 set in 2017.

As with prior months, the record sales results are a reflection of the number of vehicles car companies can drive off ships – and deliver to customers in showrooms – rather than the number of new orders written.

A significant number of the vehicles delivered last year were ordered in 2022 – or earlier – as production and shipping bottlenecks in the wake of the pandemic ease, and car makers work through their order banks.

However industry analysts and car company executives warn the record demand and ‘order intake’ seen in 2021 and 2022 – when Australians looked to holiday at home during the pandemic – has passed, influenced by economic pressures such as rising inflation and interest rates.

“As we celebrate this historic achievement, we recognise that the automotive sector will face challenges in the coming months,” Tony Weber, chief of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries – the peak body for new-car makers in Australia – said in a media statement.

“Cost-of-living pressures and increased interest rates will impact the market, and we anticipate a challenging 2024.”

Japanese car giant Toyota remained the top-selling new-car brand for the 21st year in a row – and 27th year since 1991 – reporting 215,240 sales.

It is down 6.8 per cent on the 231,050 deliveries it reported in 2022 – and down 9.9 per cent on its all-time record of 238,983 sales posted in 2008.

The car maker – which is the top seller in Australia and globally – struggled with major production and shipping bottlenecks in the first half of the year, though supply eased in the final months of 2023.

It is predicting shorter wait times in 2024 for its top sellers – including the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, which attracted waits of up to two or three years following the pandemic, but Toyota forecasts will fall to between four and six months this year.

While the Toyota brand held onto its number-one spot, the Toyota HiLux – Australia’s top-selling new motor vehicle for the past seven years in a row – was dethroned by its long-time ute rival, the Ford Ranger.

Though it was predicted the race would come down to the wire – after the HiLux entered December with a lead of only 379 vehicles – the Ranger finished the year 2245 sales ahead of the HiLux.

Toyota HiLux 4×2 and 4×4 deliveries tallied 61,111 in 2023, down 5.1 per cent on its record of 64,391 set last year – at the time the highest sales result since the Holden Commodore topped the leaderboard in 2005.

Meanwhile Ford reported 63,356 Ranger utes as sold in 2023, up 33.4 per cent on the prior year as deliveries of the new-generation model – which arrived in mid 2022 – ramped up.

The Ford Ranger holds the lead in the 4×4 sales race – with 58,261 deliveries compared to 48,995 HiLux 4x4s – while the Toyota HiLux remains the leader in 4×2 ute sales, with 12,116 examples departing showrooms compared to 5095 Ford Ranger 4x2s.

The Ford Ranger smashed its monthly sales record in December with 7767 deliveries, up 23 per cent on its previous record of 6301 set one month prior.

Following Toyota in 2023 was long-time second-placed finisher Mazda – with 100,008 sales, up 4.5 per cent – ahead of Ford (87,800 sales, up 31.8 per cent).

Kia beat sister brand Hyundai for the second year in a row – though the gap of 987 sales between the South Korean siblings was much closer than the 4985 between them in 2022, after a late surge from Hyundai.

Chinese brand MG remained seventh on the sales charts (58,346 sales, up 17.7 per cent) – matching its ranking last year, up from ninth in 2021, and 30th in 2017 – while compatriot GWM (Great Wall Motors) finished 13th with 36,397 sales, up 45.3 per cent on 2022 results.

No Top 10 brand grew more in 2023 than Tesla, which reported 46,116 electric-car deliveries – up 135.4 per cent on the prior year, as it recorded a full calendar year of sales for its top seller, the Model Y SUV (28,769 deliveries).

It was another record year for electric-car sales, with 80,217 reported as delivered by the end of the year – up 161.1 per cent – and accounting for 7 per cent of all new motor-vehicle sales (compared to 3 per cent in 2022).

As in prior years, Tesla led the electric-car sales race by a significant margin, with more than one in two battery-only cars sold wearing its badge.

Hybrid cars remained more popular, with 98,439 sales reported over the calendar year, up 20.3 per cent on 2022 – dominated by Toyota.

On the top models leaderboard, the HiLux and Ranger were followed by the Isuzu D-Max (31,202 sales, up 28.2 per cent) – 1575 sales ahead of the Toyota RAV4 (29,627 sales, down 15 per cent), which was Australia’s top-selling SUV for the fourth year in a row.

It drove Isuzu – which sells two vehicles, the D-Max ute and MU-X 4WD wagon – to an all-time sales record of 45,341 vehicles, about 10,000 more than its 2022 result, and its second Top 10 finish in a row (though it ended the year in 10th, down from ninth in 2022).

But for the first time in Australian automotive history, no traditional ‘passenger car’ – a hatchback, sedan, wagon, coupe or convertible – finished in the Top 10 for the year.

The Toyota Corolla slipped from sixth in 2022 to 12th in 2023 – after stock shortages earlier in the year that lost it crucial ground it could not claw back – and lost its 10-year winning streak in the passenger-car sales race to the Hyundai i30, which also slipped from ninth to 11th.

Sales of SUVs have been ahead of passenger cars since 2017, and accounted for 55.8 per cent of new vehicles delivered in 2023 – the highest share on record, beating 2022’s 53.1 per cent.

Data below supplied by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), and compiled by Alex Misoyannis and Jordan Mulach.

Note: The FCAI has reshuffled some of its categories for the new year, increasing the price limits, adding a new category (utes above $100,000), and moving some vehicles to different categories as their prices have risen (such as the Volkswagen Golf and Subaru WRX, which were previously in the small car under $40,000 category).

TOP 10 CAR BRANDS IN FULL-YEAR 2023

Rank Brand Volume Full-Year 2023 Change year-on-year
1 Toyota 215,240 down 6.8 per cent
2 Mazda 100,008 up 4.5 per cent
3 Ford 87,800 up 31.8 per cent
4 Kia 76,120 down 2.8 per cent
5 Hyundai 75,183 up 2.5 per cent
6 Mitsubishi 63,511 down 17.5 per cent
7 MG 58,346 up 17.7 per cent
8 Tesla 46,116 up 135 per cent
9 Subaru 46,114 up 28 per cent
10 Isuzu Ute 45,341 up 28.4 per cent

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

TOP 10 CAR BRANDS IN December 2023

Rank Brand Volume December 2023 Change year-on-year
1 Toyota 19,281 up 18.5 per cent
2 Ford 9826 up 59.4 per cent
3 Mazda 6765 down 20.4 per cent
4 Kia 5583 down 0.8 per cent
5 Mitsubishi 5134 up 4.2 per cent
6 Hyundai 4887 up 10.2 per cent
7 Isuzu Ute 3987 up 59.2 per cent
8 GWM 3862 up 17.2 per cent
9 MG 3834 down 26.2 per cent
10 Subaru 3623 down 11 per cent

TOP 10 CARS IN December 2023

Rank Model Volume December 2023 Change year-on-year
1 Ford Ranger 7767 up 66.6 per cent
2 Toyota HiLux 5143 up 20.4 per cent
3 Isuzu D-Max 2833 up 81.5 per cent
4 Toyota Prado 2475 up 155.2 per cent
5 Toyota RAV4 2192 up 0.0005 per cent
6 Toyota Corolla 1888 up 2.4 per cent
7 Mitsubishi Outlander 1882 down 8.3 per cent
8 Kia Sportage 1546 up 6.5 per cent
9 MG ZS 1522 down 50.2 per cent
10 Ford Everest 1496 up 61.6 per cent

Passenger cars: Top Three in each segment in December 2023

Micro Kia Picanto (408) Fiat/Abarth 500 (42) Mitsubishi Mirage (0)
Light < $30k MG 3 (728) Suzuki Swift (428) Mazda 2 (326)
Light > $30k Mini Hatch (154) Audi A1 (28) Skoda Fabia (24)
Small < $40k Toyota Corolla (1888) Hyundai i30 (1047) Kia Cerato (645)
Small > $40k MG 4 (607) Audi A3 (371) Subaru WRX (246)
Medium < $60k Toyota Camry (1312) BYD Seal (471) Mazda 6 (86)
Medium > $60k Tesla Model 3 (841) Polestar 2 (405) BMW 3 Series (189)
Large < $70k Skoda Superb (23) Kia Stinger (12) Citroen C5 X (1)
Large > $70k BMW 5 Series (52) Mercedes-Benz EQE (49) Mercedes-Benz E-Class (40)
Upper Large < $100k Chrysler 300 (0)
Upper Large > $100k Mercedes-Benz EQS (21) Mercedes-Benz S-Class (7) BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe (5)
People Movers Kia Carnival (1001) Hyundai Staria (118) Volkswagen Multivan (59)
Sports < $80k BMW 2 Series coupe/convertible (98) Toyota GR86 (91) Subaru BRZ (79)
Sports > $80k BMW 4 Series coupe/convertible (59) Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe/convertible (33) Chevrolet Corvette Stingray (29)
Sports > $200k Porsche 911 (23) Bentley sports cars, Mercedes-AMG SL (17) Lamborghini sports cars (14)

SUVs: Top Three in each segment in December 2023

Light SUV Mazda CX-3 (1252) Toyota Yaris Cross (675) Kia Stonic (399)
Small SUV < $45k MG ZS (1522) GWM Haval Jolion (1083) Subaru Crosstrek (878)
Small SUV > $45k Volvo XC40 (526) BMW X1 (375) Lexus UX (223)
Medium SUV < $60k Toyota RAV4 (2192) Mitsubishi Outlander (1882) Kia Sportage (1546)
Medium SUV > $60k Tesla Model Y (1351) Mercedes-Benz GLC (620) Lexus NX (506)
Large SUV < $70k Toyota Prado (2475) Ford Everest (1496) Isuzu MU-X (1154)
Large SUV > $70k Mercedes-Benz GLE (262) Land Rover Defender (256) Kia EV6 (252)
Upper Large SUV < $120k Toyota LandCruiser wagon (1311) Nissan Patrol wagon (556) Kia EV9 (91)
Upper Large SUV > $120k BMW X7 (98) Lexus LX (58) Mercedes-Benz GLS (55)

Utes and vans: Top Three in each segment in December 2023

Vans < 2.5t Peugeot Partner (64) Volkswagen Caddy (58) Renault Kangoo (0)
Vans 2.5t-3.5t Toyota HiAce van (654) LDV G10/G10+ (210) Ford Transit Custom (205)
4×2 Utes Toyota HiLux (696) Isuzu D-Max (449) Ford Ranger (408)
4×4 Utes < $100k Ford Ranger (7359) Toyota HiLux (4447) Isuzu D-Max (2384)
Utes > $100k Ram 1500 (283) Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (264) Ford F-150 (113)

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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