2023 marked a bumper year for new vehicle sales in Australia, with the highest number of deliveries recorded in a calendar year.

The Australian new car market reached an all-time record sales high in 2023, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has confirmed with the publication of its complete new vehicle sales data for 2023.

Marking a bounce-back from the past few years where highly-publicised parts supply shortages saw new vehicle costs and delivery wait times increase, a total of 1,216,780 new vehicles were delivered in 2023, a 12.5 percent increase over 2022’s figures. Previously, the all-time market record was set in 2017 with 1,189,116 new vehicles sold.

As with last year, four of the same five brands comprised the overall best-sellers. Toyota (215,240 units, 17.7 percent market share) and Mazda (100,008 units, 8.2 percent market share) held onto the top two spots, while Ford rocketed into third place with 87,800 units, a 7.2 percent market share.

The Tesla Model Y was one model that saw a huge spike in sales during 2023, with its year-to-date figures more than tripling.

Kia fell one place to fourth with 76,120 units sold (6.3 percent market share) while Hyundai held onto fifth place with just a smidge less at 75,183 sales (6.2 percent market share).

SUV sales unsurprisingly boomed in sales once again with an 18.2 percent year-to-date increase in sales while accounting for 55.4 percent of all new cars sold, a steady 2.3 percent increase.

Light commercial vehicle (ute and van) sales remained fairly steady, although the segment’s market share fell from 23.7 percent in 2022 to 22.5 percent in 2023. Similarly, passenger car sales were steady but declined in overall market share from 18.8 percent to to 17.3 percent.

SUVs

Once again, the Toyota RAV4 has topped the SUV sales charts, but this year it wasn’t such a dominant display for the ever-popular model which has suffered from some of the most challenging wait times of any new vehicle.

Hot on its heels was the affordable MG ZS which was just 369 units behind it. Also close behind was the Tesla Model Y which more than tripled its 2022 sales figures to rocket into third place and within a thousand units of the RAV4.

Further behind it in fourth and fifth was the Mitsubishi Outlander, up from fourth, and the Mazda CX-5, dropping all the way down from second to fifth.

The most notable omission from the top five is the Toyota Prado which had been a long-time top-seller. However, the current 150-series model is due for replacement in 2024 which perhaps explains the drop in sales.

Top five best-selling SUVs in Australia during 2023:

  1. Toyota RAV4 – 29,627
  2. MG ZS – 29,258
  3. Tesla Model Y – 28,769
  4. Mitsubishi Outlander – 24,263
  5. Mazda CX-5 – 23,083

Passenger vehicles

Toyota and the mighty Corolla have fallen in the declining passenger vehicle segment, with its sales dropping notably for another year, so much so this time that the Hyundai i30 has overtaken it for first place despite also seeing sales slump.

Jumping up to third is another Tesla, this time the Model 3 which saw a big sales spike in 2023, if not quite as large a one as the Model Y saw. The MG 3 fell one place from third to fourth, while the Kia Cerato crashed out of the top five as its sales halved, seeing the Toyota Camry finally crawl back into the top five.

Top five best-selling passenger vehicles in Australia during 2023:

  1. Hyundai i30 – 20,626
  2. Toyota Corolla – 19,986
  3. Tesla Model 3 – 17,347
  4. MG 3 – 15,430
  5. Toyota Camry – 10,581

Light commercial vehicles

If you thought the Corolla being pipped at the post was a surprise, the mighty have truly fallen in the LCV segment. After seven years of market dominance, the Toyota HiLux has finally been beaten out by the Ford Ranger for overall sales, although the HiLux still has a firm grasp on the 4×2 market. That’s despite the HiLux seeing a major sales boom in 2022 while the Ranger’s stock fell slightly.

Elsewhere, the Isuzu D-Max saw another noteworthy rise in sales, now earning it the bronze medal in the class, while maintaining second-place for 4×2 sales specifically, highlighting its popularity with fleet buyers.

The D-Max’s twin under the skin, the Mazda BT-50, also climbed one spot from fifth to fourth, while the Mitsubishi Triton managed to grasp fifth place despite the current model being in run-out ahead of the next-gen’s arrival in 2024.

Outside of the top five, the Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series posted an impressive 11,414 units sold, while the Nissan Navara (8499 units) saw a further sales slump and was overtaken by the GWM Ute with 9616 units shifted.

As for vans, the Toyota HiAce again was the top-seller with 9499 units sold including Commuter variants, while the LDV G10 took second place with 3638 units. The Hyundai Staria Load (2497 units) fell from second to fourth, overtaken by the Ford Transit Custom (2843 units).

Top five best-selling light commercial vehicles in Australia during 2023:

  1. Ford Ranger – 63,356
  2. Toyota HiLux – 61,111
  3. Isuzu D-Max – 31,202
  4. Mazda BT-50 – 17,526
  5. Mitsubishi Triton – 16,641

The year’s wildcards: Sports car sales on the rise, and the petrol engine bounces back

There’s always a few numbers that stand out when pilfering through the annual VFACTS report, and this year’s one will be music to the ears of car enthusiasts. Sports car sales went up quite noticeably, and although total sales were a meagre 11,757 for the segment, that number marked a 34.4 percent increase over 2022’s figures – the largest percentage growth of any segment.

Sports cars in the under $80k category accounted for the majority, with the Subaru BRZ (1573 units) taking the crown as the country’s best-selling sports car. Following closely behind it were the ageing Ford Mustang (1475 units), BMW 2 Series (1164 units), and its Toyota twin in the GR86 (1144 units). In the $80-200k class above it, the Chevrolet Corvette (338 units) interestingly outsold the BMW-derived Toyota Supra (276 units).

Looking across the market, the sale of vehicles fitted with a petrol engine increased by 6.7 percent which marks a bounce-back after 2022 saw petrol vehicle sales decline for the first time ever by 5.0 percent. It’s worth noting, however, that among passenger vehicles, petrol sales fell 7.0 percent, meaning the gains were made through the sale of petrol SUVs (up 12.0 percent).

The EV sales boom continued with a 161.1 percent increase in sales across the market with a whopping 87,217 electric vehicles sold in 2023, accounting for 7.2 percent of all new vehicles. However, petrol still account for the lion’s share of the market at 588,612 units, a 48.3 percent share of all sales.

The BYD Atto 3 (11,042 units) was one of a number of new entrants to the EV market, with 2023 marking a successful first full-year on sale after its launch in 2022.

All together now…

As you’ll have noticed when we touched on LCV sales figures, the Ford Ranger not only beat out the Toyota HiLux for the best-selling ute in the country but as the best-selling new vehicle in the country overall.

Toyota’s other models took hits on the overall top 20, with the RAV4 falling from third to fourth and the Corolla tropping from sixth to 13th, although the LandCruiser and Prado held onto seventh and 11th respectively.

The largest drop in sales was seen by the Mitsubishi Triton, sliding from fourth down to 16th, although its 39.4 percent decrease is easily explained by it being a superseded model now in run-out.

The biggest jump was taken by the Tesla Model Y, rising all the way from 35th in 2022 to sixth in 2023 after posting a whopping 230.0 percent increase in sales. The Model 3 also jumped noticeably from 26th to 15th.

Despite the big overall sales rebound in 2023, FCAI chief executive Tony Weber acknowledged a potentially challenging 2024, although he remains optimistic.

“As we celebrate this historic achievement, we recognise that the automotive sector will face challenges in the coming months. “Cost-of-living pressures and increased interest rates will impact the market, and we anticipate a challenging 2024,” said Weber.

“The FCAI will continue its work with governments and other industry stakeholders during 2024 to manage a broad range of issues ranging from emissions standards, environmental impacts, logistics and supply chains, taxation, vehicle safety, data use and recharging infrastructure.”

Top 20 best-selling cars in Australia in 2023:

  1. Ford Ranger – 63,356 (↑ 33.4%, ↑ 2nd)
  2. Toyota HiLux – 61,111 (↓ 5.1%, ↓ 1st)
  3. Isuzu D-Max – 31,202 (↑ 28.2%, ↑ 8th)
  4. Toyota RAV4 – 29,627 (↓ 15.0%, ↓ 3rd)
  5. MG ZS – 29,258 (↑ 30.2%, ↑ 9th)
  6. Tesla Model Y – 28,769 (↑ 230.0%, ↑ 35th)
  7. Toyota LandCruiser (all body styles) – 26,449 (↑ 7.8%, = 7th)
  8. Mitsubishi Outlander – 24,263 (↑ 24.1%, ↑ 12th)
  9. Mazda CX-5 – 23,083 (↓ 14.7%, ↓ 5th)
  10. Hyundai Tucson – 21,224 (↑ 18.8%, ↑ 17th)
  11. Toyota Prado – 20,710 (↓ 1.9%, = 11th)
  12. Hyundai i30 – 20,626 (↓ 2.6%, ↓ 10th)
  13. Toyota Corolla – 19,986 (↓ 21.0%, ↓ 6th)
  14. Mazda BT-50 – 17,526 (↑ 35.4%, ↑ 17th)
  15. Tesla Model 3 – 17,347 (↑ 59.5%, ↑ 26th)
  16. Mitsubishi Triton – 16,641 (↓ 39.4%, ↓ 4th)
  17. Subaru Forester – 16,381 (↑ 54.0%, ↑ 27th)
  18. Mazda CX-3 – 15,776 (↑ 32.5%, ↑ 21st)
  19. Kia Sportage – 15,747 (↓ 16.2%, ↓ 13th)
  20. MG 3 – 15,430 (↓ 4.6%, ↓ 15th)
Patrick Jackson
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