After another tumultuous year for the new car market, the Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has published its complete new vehicle sales data for 2021, showing that while sales have started to rise after 2020’s coronavirus-driven decline, the year didn’t end on the strongest note.

A total of 1,049,831 new vehicles were sold in Australia during the year – a big increase of 14.5 percent compared to 2020. For comparison’s sake, The New York Times reports that US new vehicle sales rose just 2.5 percent on 2020.

However, while sales strengthened significantly through the first half of the year, the global semiconductor shortage caught up with the market. Both November and December 2021 saw the months’ lowest new vehicle sales since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 – prior to that, sales were up 18.3 percent for the previous 11 months, with November and December 2020 even reporting increases on 2019’s sales figures.

An all-new Ford Ranger is due to arrive in 2022 – could it finally be the one to dethrone the Toyota HiLux from its six years at the top of the LCV segment?

Once again, SUV sales have continued to boom in a big way, with total SUV sales up 16.9 percent on 2020’s already-increased levels, representing 50.6 percent of all vehicles sold – up 1.0 percent, and first time SUVs have accounted for more than half of all sales. Light commercial vehicles (utes and vans) boomed even more, with sales up 23.2 percent on 2020’s figures, and represented 24.1 percent of all sales, up 1.7 percent.

Passenger vehicle sales were still decline popularity-wise, however, as while overall sales increased a mere 0.2 percent, its 21.1 percent market share represents a 3.1 percent decline – 2020 saw the greatest drop yet of 5.5 percent.

Toyota once again remained the most popular manufacturer in the country with a 21.3 overall share of the market, along with conquering the US market as well, marking the first time an imported brand had in the US car industry’s 120 year history. Mazda remained second in Australia with 9.6 percent, and Hyundai third with a 6.9 percent market share – barely ahead of Ford’s 6.8 percent and Kia’s 6.5 percent.


Once again, the Toyota RAV4 topped all SUV sales with the Mazda CX-5 in second-place, despite RAV4 sales dropping by around 3000 units and CX-5 sales increasing by roughly the same amount. The Toyota Prado similarly remained in third place, with sales of the ageing 4×4 also up.

The Mitsubishi ASX managed to sneak back into the top five after being knocked out by the Hyundai Tucson and Toyota LandCruiser 76 and 200, although sales were more than 6000 shy of its 2019 third-placing.

There’s one new entrant to the top five for the first time, though – the MG ZS. The decision to keep the cheaper, older ZS on sale alongside its newer replacement, the ZST, was clearly a smart move by the Chinese-owned once-British marque.

Top five best-selling SUVs in Australia during 2021:

  1. Toyota RAV4 – 35,751
  2. Mazda CX-5 – 24,968
  3. Toyota Prado – 21,299
  4. MG ZS – 18,423
  5. Mitsubishi ASX – 14,764

Passenger vehicles

All of the top four places among passenger vehicles remained unchanged for 2021, with the Toyota Corolla assuring its dominance of the class, topping all passenger cars for the ninth year in a row.

Sales grew significantly for both it and particularly the Hyundai i30 – offered as a sedan as well as a hatch since late 2020. The Kia Cerato saw a mild increase, while the Mazda3 remained fairly stagnant.

Once again, MG managed to sneak into the top five here as well, with the diminutive MG 3 knocking the Toyota Camry down a place.

Top five best-selling passenger vehicles in Australia during 2021:

  1. Toyota Corolla – 28,768
  2. Hyundai i30 – 25,575
  3. Kia Cerato – 18,114
  4. Mazda3 – 14,126
  5. MG 3 – 13,774

Light commercial vehicles

Top of the LCV charts once again was the Toyota HiLux, marking a second straight market-wide Toyota hatrick, and the sixth-year in a row for the HiLux. The Ford Ranger sat behind it in second place once again, but with an all-new Ranger due next year, who knows if it’ll have the potential to actually beat it out by this time next year.

Break down those sales between 4×2 and 4×4 models and it only gets even more interesting – while 25.0 percent of HiLux sales (13,214) were 4×2 models, only 8.2 percent of Rangers sold (4293) were 4×2 models. In fact, the third-placed overall Isuzu D-Max outsold the Ranger in the 4×2 ute sector (6478 units).

The all-new Mazda BT-50 – itself based on the Isuzu D-Max – managed to dethrone the Nissan Navara from fifth place, meaning 40,779 total utes sold were actually produced by Isuzu. The Navara was at least close to making the top five, though, with it a mere 549 sales away.

Although no vans made the LCV top five, the Toyota HiAce Van led sales with 9726, followed by the LDV G10 and Ford Transit Custom.

It’s believed that the strong ute sales have been driven by the booming construction industry and also holidaymakers opting to explore Australia; van sales increases are likely due to the increase in parcel deliveries spurred on by the pandemic causing a shift towards online shopping.

Top five best-selling light commercial vehicles in Australia during 2021:

  1. Toyota HiLux – 52,801
  2. Ford Ranger – 50,279
  3. Isuzu D-Max – 25,117
  4. Mitsubishi Triton – 19,232
  5. Mazda BT-50 – 15,662

The year’s wildcards: EVs, Chinese-made vehicles jump skyward; Camry still a segment leader yet off all lists

It may be hard to call them wildcards given they were the same ones mentioned last year, but the surprising rises in sales of EVs and Chinese-made vehicles in Australia in 2020 have jumped to utter sales explosions in 2021.

When it comes to EVs, sales are up a whopping 191.1 percent on 2020s figures – those already marking a 16.2 percent increase – with 5149 sold. Electric vehicles did still only count for 0.49 percent of the market, however.

Chinese-made vehicles saw the most astronomical rise, though, with sales up 148.4 percent to a total of 76,262. Still behind Japan, Thailand, and South Korea, this does now put China ahead of Germany and the USA. This is thanks to MG sales rising 155.9 percent (39,025 units), LDV sales up 62.9 percent (15,188 units), and GWM/Haval sales climbing an unbelievable 251.2 percent (18,384 units).

The other notable curiosity worth mentioning as well is the Toyota Camry. Although the Camry led the medium-car segment for a record 28th year in a row, its 13,081 sales saw it not only miss out on a spot in the passenger car top five, but also in the overall top 20 list as well. If ever you needed a sign of how sedans are declining in popularity, let it be that.

The all-new Haval H6, produced by GWM, is one of many Chinese-made cars to have found popularity in Australia during 2021.

All together now…

Unsurprisingly, the Toyota HiLux has led the charge yet again and managed to be the top-selling vehicle overall in Australia during 2021. Surprising, though, is how close the Ford Ranger came to beating it out.

Indeed, the top five selling vehicles overall remained unchanged in their placing from 2020, and it’s only testament to Toyota’s sheer popularity Down Under, owning four of those spots and five of the top 20, along with leading in every major segment overall.

The entrance of two MG models to the top 20 is certainly of note, though, as is the big drop in placing of popular models such as the Hyundai Tucson – despite a new-generation model being launched during 2021.

While sales did rise, it’ll be interesting to see how long supply issues due to the semiconductor shortage do last. Who knows – we could be in for another year of downturns in 2022.

Top 20 best-selling cars in Australia in 2021:

  1. Toyota HiLux – 52,801
  2. Ford Ranger – 50,279
  3. Toyota RAV4 – 35,571
  4. Toyota Corolla – 28,768
  5. Toyota LandCruiser (all body styles) – 26,633
  6. Hyundai i30 – 25,575
  7. Isuzu D-Max – 25,117
  8. Mazda CX-5 – 24,968
  9. Toyota Prado – 21,299
  10. Mitsubishi Triton – 19,232
  11. MG ZS – 18,423
  12. Kia Cerato – 18,114
  13. Mazda BT-50 – 15,662
  14. Nissan Navara – 15,113
  15. Mitsubishi ASX – 14,764
  16. Mitsubishi Outlander – 14,572
  17. Hyundai Tucson – 14,194
  18. Mazda3 – 14,126
  19. Nissan X-Trail – 13,860
  20. MG 3 – 13,774
Patrick Jackson
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