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Trevor Collett | Jan 8, 2017

Records tumbled everywhere in 2016 as the new car market in Australia achieved a new benchmark for overall sales.

Despite a dip last month of 0.9 percent, VFACTS revealed the market grew two percent over 2015 with a grand total of 1,178,133 sales.

And as the market looks to 2017, sales show no sign of slowing with 2016 being the third record-setting year of the last four years.

For SUVs, 2017 might not be the year that the segment reaches parity with passenger cars, but the popular high-riding wagons took a big chunk out of passenger car sales in 2016.

Sales for SUVs in 2016 rose eight percent over 2015, while passenger car sales dropped 5.7 percent. The gap in overall sales shrunk from 107,212 units in 2015 to just 45,240 last year.

Even stronger growth in 2016 was seen in the light commercial market, with sales up 9.4 percent.

A simplistic view of the market suggests (ignoring light van and bus sales for a moment) for every two buyers considering a SUV, there’s one that turns to a pickup instead.

Typically, the pickup will be a dual-cab 4WD, and Toyota’s HiLux is the most popular of the bunch.

How popular? After a slight lull in 2015 while Toyota waited for the all-new model, the HiLux has risen in 2016 to become Australia’s top selling vehicle - the first time in history that a light commercial has topped the sales charts in Australia for a calendar year.

In a two-way race with another Toyota, the HiLux pipped the Corolla to the post by 1774 units. The pair was comfortably ahead of the Hyundai i30, which took the final step on the sales podium for 2016 on 37,772 units.

Mazda’s ‘3’ not only saw its challenge for top spot dashed by the Toyota pair, and the i30, but found itself in fifth place for 2016 on 36,107 sales behind the Ford Ranger on 36,934.

The Ranger’s success is further amplified when 4WD pickup figures are considered alone, showing that the Ford was just 196 sales behind the Toyota HiLux.

December threw up its usual mix of unusual results, with the Toyota Camry repeating its end-of-year rush from 2015 to take top spot last month on 4850 sales.

Top 10 Selling Brands - December 2016

  1. Toyota - 19,925 (down 6.1 percent)
  2. Mazda - 9771 (up 0.6 percent)
  3. Holden - 7725 (down 15.5 percent)
  4. Hyundai - 7052 (down 1.5 percent)
  5. Mitsubishi - 6752 (down 10 percent)
  6. Ford - 6466 (up 2.8 percent)
  7. Nissan - 5072 (up 1.2 percent)
  8. Volkswagen - 4564 (up 2.4 percent)
  9. Honda - 4228 (up 27.4 percent)
  10. Subaru - 3908 (up 8.3 percent)

Top 10 Selling Models - December 2016

  1. Toyota Camry - 4850 (26,485 sales for 2016)
  2. Toyota HiLux - 4086 (42,104)
  3. Ford Ranger - 3367 (36,934)
  4. Mazda3 - 3141 (36,107)
  5. Toyota Corolla - 2927 (40,330)
  6. Hyundai i30 - 2835 (37,772)
  7. Holden Commodore - 2130 (25,860)
  8. Mitsubishi Triton - 2106 (21,897)
  9. Mazda CX-5 - 1906 (24,564)
  10. Isuzu D-Max - 1876 (16,359)

In further good news for Toyota, the Camry’s sales rush in December saw it push ahead of the Holden Commodore to take sixth place for 2016.

Holden probably won’t be dissatisfied with a seventh-place finish for the Commodore, as sales continue to taper off as the model (as we know it) winds down to retirement.

A flurry of ‘special edition’ models in 2017 probably won’t be enough to see the Commodore break the top-five in its final year as a locally-built car, and it will be difficult for Holden to chase volume in the model’s final year when the factory is winding up its operations.

Another to raise eyebrows in December was the Isuzu D-Max, with the Japanese pickup making a surprise appearance in the top-ten on 1876 sales.

The December performance capped a record year for Isuzu in Australia, with the D-Max achieving 16,359 sales and the MU-X SUV chalking up 7018.

Also popping champaign corks in December for 2016 sales was:

  • Subaru - 17th record in the last 19 years and a record year for Outback sales
  • Mazda - recording an overall ten percent market share for the first time, including a record year for the MX-5
  • Honda - 40,838 sales was the carmaker’s best result since 2009
  • Mitsubishi - the brand’s best result since its local manufacturing ceased, with strong years from the ASX and Triton
  • Volvo - a record year in Australia with sales up 19 percent on 2015, led by the all-new XC90 SUV

And finally, Hyundai. Only three carmakers topped 100,000 sales in Australia for 2016, and Hyundai’s 101,555 total saw it shift Holden from the podium for the first time.

Hyundai does not have a poor performer sales-wise compared to its rivals in any of the segments it chooses to contest, and the carmaker broke through the 100,000 barrier without a pickup model in its ranks.

And while i30 finished third overall for the year behind the HiLux and main rival, the Corolla, Hyundai says combining i30 hatch and Elantra sedan sales in the small car segment for a grand total of 42,591 (Corolla’s sedan and hatch sales are already combined) would see the Hyundai pair not only overtake the Corolla for 2016, but also the HiLux. With that in mind, perhaps Hyundai should rename the Elantra as the ‘i30 Sedan’…

Hyundai’s Tucson SUV took the final spot in the overall top-ten for 2016, pushing 2015’s tenth-placed Golf outside the top-ten and denying Toyota a fourth top-ten entrant (the RAV4).

Toyota was never headed for the honour of Australia’s best-selling carmaker in 2016.

A total of 209,610 saw sales grow by 1.6 percent over 2015, and Mazda was 91,393 sales behind in second place.

As mentioned, Hyundai took third while Holden hung onto fourth with 94,308 sales.

Ford saw sales rise 15.3 percent last year to claim fifth - up from sixth in 2015 - while Mitsubishi was next followed by Nissan and Volkswagen. The German carmaker’s sales in Australia eased 6.1 percent in its first full year since the ‘dieselgate’ emissions scandal broke.

Subaru was ninth on 47,018 sales, up 7.8 percent, while a ripper year for Kia (up 26.5 percent) saw it break through to the top-ten on 42,668 sales.

MORE News & Reviews: VFACTS | Toyota | HiLux | Camry | Hyundai | Pickups

Top Ten Selling Brands - 2016

  1. Toyota - 209,610 (up 1.6 percent on 2015)
  2. Mazda - 118,217 (up 3.7 percent)
  3. Hyundai - 101,555 (down 0.4 percent)
  4. Holden - 94,308 (down 8.4 percent)
  5. Ford - 81,207 (up 15.3 percent)
  6. Mitsubishi - 73,368 (up 2.3 percent)
  7. Nissan - 66,826 (up 1.2 percent)
  8. Volkswagen - 56,571 (down 6.1 percent)
  9. Subaru - 47,018 (up 7.8 percent)
  10. Kia - 42,668 (up 26.5 percent)

Top Ten Selling Models - 2016

  1. Toyota HiLux - 42,104 sales
  2. Toyota Corolla - 40,330
  3. Hyundai i30 - 37,772
  4. Ford Ranger - 36,934
  5. Mazda3 - 36,107
  6. Toyota Camry - 26,485
  7. Holden Commodore - 25,860
  8. Mazda CX-5 - 24,564
  9. Mitsubishi Triton - 21,897
  10. Hyundai Tucson - 20,132
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