March figures show vehicle sales are soaring

Sales of new cars and motorcycles continue to post strong growth as the Australian economy rebounds.

New figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) reveal that Australians are increasingly getting on their bikes with 2021 first-quarter sales results for motorcycles and OHVs (off-highway vehicles) continuing the exceptional growth trends of 2020.

The quarterly motorcycle sales figures come on the back of March new vehicle sales that show a 22.4% increase on March 2020, with a total of 100,005 vehicles sold.

The FCAI has attributed the strong performance in both cases to the resurgent Australian economy but there seems little doubt it is also being driven by Australians staying at home and spending what might have otherwise been overseas holiday money on new vehicle and motorcycle purchases.   

In the case of new vehicles, the Northern Territory (43.4%) and Queensland (32.7%) led the nation-wide sales surge, ahead of Tasmania (30%) and Western Australia (30.5%), with only the ACT failing to deliver a better number than its March 2020 result. 

SUV sales were up 32% and light commercial vehicles were up by 28%, according to the FCAI, with eight of the top 10 selling vehicles for the month being SUVs or light commercials. 

FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber said new vehicle sales continued to show growth as the economy emerged from the economic impacts of COVID-19, adding the result could have been even stronger if some brands had not been impacted by delivery constraints in global factory supply chains.

“This is the strongest March result in two years, with private buyers representing the largest proportion of new vehicle purchasers,” Mr Weber said.

Sales of electric vehicles also performed strongly, albeit off a low base, reaching 411 units in March 2021 versus 248 sales the prior year. 

Toyota was once again the leading brand in March with sales of 21,319 vehicles (21.3% of the market), followed by Mazda with 10,785 (10.8%), Hyundai with 6852 (6.9%), Mitsubishi with 6430 (6.4%) and Ford with 5977 (6.0%).

The Toyota Hilux was the best-selling vehicle in March 2021 with sales of 5319 vehicles, followed by the Ford Ranger (3983), the Toyota RAV4 (3522), the Toyota LandCruiser (3392) and the Mazda CX-5 (3022).

Total motorcycle and OHV sales for the period from January to March 2021 were 27,256 units, an increase of 9279 motorcycles, scooters and off-highway vehicles.

A statement from the FCAI said this represented a 51.6% increase on the same period in 2020 when 17,977 sales were recorded.

First-quarter road bike sales were up by 20.9% to 8684 units, off-road motorcycles were up 88.9% to 11,642 units. 

OHVs also continued their significant sales growth with 5455 units, an increase of 57.2% over the same period in 2020 and Scooter sales were up 26.9% to 1475 units.

“The results are clearly reinforcing the view that motorbikes, scooters and OHVs are continuing to be a favoured mobility choice across the country,” said Mr Weber. 

Mr Weber said the result “reflects a growing confidence in the economy as people use their disposable income to either upgrade or buy a motorcycle for the first time”.

Top 10 selling vehicles by volume:

 Rank  Vehicle  March '21  March '20  % difference
 1.  Toyota Hi-Lux  5319  3556  49.6%
 2.  Ford Ranger  3983  3108  28.2%
 3.  Toyota RAV4  3522  2991  17.8%
 4.  Toyota LandCruiser  3392  2043  66.0%
 5.  Mazda CX-5  3022  1734  74.3%
 6.  Toyota Corolla  2892  2812  2.8%
 7.  Hyundai i30  2514  1856  35.5%
 8.  Mitsubishi Triton  2492  1813  37.5%
 9.  Isuzu Ute D-Max  1994  1467  35.9%
 10.  Nissan X Trail  1932  1323  46.0%