November new car sales reverses 31-month downwards trend

Australian new car buyers were back out in force.

Aussie new vehicle buyers surged back into showrooms in November, delivering the first year-on-year increase in monthly sales for almost two and a half years. 

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), the peak body for the automotive industry, reported November sales figures for new vehicles in Australia of 95,205 units, an increase of 10,497 sales or 12.4% on November 2019.  

The result builds on the early green shoots seen in October when sales reversed a long-standing series of double-digit declines to finish just 1.5% down on October 2019 sales.

On a year-to-date basis, November’s sales of 821,316 new vehicles were still down 16.1 per cent on the same period in 2019 but the strong monthly lift back into positive territory prompted Chief Executive of the FCAI Tony Weber to suggest the industry might be seeing the first signs of recovery in the new vehicle market.

“Recent Australian new vehicles sales have seen 31 months of straight decline,” Mr Weber said.

“This has been caused by a number of well-recognised factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic and environmental and financial issues.  

“With the Australian economy showing improvement, it’s good news to see new vehicle sales trending in a more positive direction.”

Reasons for rise in sales

The FCAI attributed the improvement to factors including: rising optimism from the Australian public as COVID-19 restrictions ease; generous government support programs during the pandemic; the easing of lending restrictions; and the current competitive automotive market.

“We also believe that, given our inability to travel internationally, many Australians are choosing to purchase a new vehicle and holiday at home this year – and we fully expect to see a notable increase in family driving trips over the Christmas season,” Mr Weber said.

SUVs were again the key driver of new vehicle sales, claiming 52.5% of the market with a total of 50,016 sales, up a notable 26.5% from November 2019.

Light commercial vehicles were also in positive territory, with 22.3% market share from 21,252 sales, up 11.5% from November 2019.

Passer vehicles still struggle

However, the passenger vehicle category didn’t fare so positively, down 10.1% from its November 2019 performance for 21.8% market share.

Toyota was again the top-selling brand for the month, its 23,204 sales, more than double that of second-placed Mazda (9053), followed by Hyundai (6903), Ford (6613) and Mitsubishi (5488).

Not surprisingly, there were plenty of Toyota badges among the top five selling models including the HiLux with 5038 sales, RAV4 (3800), LandCruiser (2947) and Corolla (2774).

Only the second-placed Ford Ranger prevented a top five whitewash by Toyota with the Blue Oval ute’s 4260 sales enough to claim second spot behind the HiLux.

Around the country, all states and territories except Tasmania recorded a sales increase over November 2019, with Queensland’s 19.5% uplift bettered only by the Northern Territory’s massive 32.9% rise, albeit off a much lower number of sales – 780 versus 19,874.

Best sellers

Top 10 individual models (by sales volume):


 Rank  Vehicle Nov. '19   Nov. '20  % diff.
 1  Toyota HiLux  5038  3787  33.0
 2  Ford Ranger  4260  3491  22.0
 3  Toyota Rav4  3800  2316  64.1
 4  Toyota LandCruiser  2947  1641  79.6
 5  Toyota Corolla   2774  2229  24.5
 6  Toyota Prado  2602  1204  116.1
 7  Mazda CX-5  2412  1735  39.0
 8  Isuzu Ute D-Max  2095  1438  45.7
 9  Hyundai i30  2047  2339  -12.5
 10  Hyundai Tucson  1995  1444  38.2