Industry insights: VFACTS December 2021 summary

11 January 2022

VACC Senior Research Analyst, Steve Bletsos breaks down the latest automotive statistics from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries. Here’s what you need to know…

National scene

  • 78,402 new vehicles were sold in December 2021. This is 17,250 fewer vehicles or 18 percent lower than December 2020. It is the weakest December sales result since the GFC in 2008 and also represents the third month in a row of declining sales after 11 months of continuous growth
  • Despite the weak December result, there were 1,049,831 new vehicles sold in the 2021 calendar year, up 132,863 vehicles or 14.5 percent over 2020. Overall, this is an encouraging result considering access to many dealerships was affected by pandemic restrictions during 2021, and global shortages of microprocessors and shipping constraints also impacted heavily on new vehicle sales during the year. Without these hindrances, there is no doubt new vehicle sales would have been much higher
  • All states and territories recorded an increase in new vehicle sales in 2021 compared to 2020, except for the ACT where sales fell 18.7 percent in 2021 compared to 2020
  • In good news, industry reports point to a healthy pipeline of forward orders, which should be reflected in improved sales results over the coming months.

Sales by vehicle category and type

  • All vehicle segments experienced increased growth in 2021 over 2020, except for passenger vehicles, which declined slightly by 0.2 percent.

Sales breakdown:

Vehicle segment % increase in sales 2021 Increase in number of vehicles sold in 2021
Heavy commercial 25.3 8,754
Light commercial 23.2 47,657
SUVs 16.9 76,999
Passenger -0.2 -5,481


  • Micro vehicles were the fastest growing segment during 2021, growing by 90.4 percent, led by the Mitsubishi Mirage and Kia Picanto. This was followed by the light SUV segment which grew by 79.8 percent and people movers 44.9 percent
  • All vehicle fuel types experienced increased growth in 2021. Diesel vehicle sales were up 19.2 percent for the year, petrol vehicles were up 9.7 percent and hybrid vehicle sales were up by 20.3 percent
  • The highest sales growth – albeit off a low base – was recorded by battery electric vehicles and plug-in-hybrid electric vehicles, with sales growth rates of 191.1 percent and 99.4 percent
  • There were 5,149 battery-electric vehicles recorded as being sold in 2021, compared to 1,769 in 2020. This, however, does not include sales of Tesla vehicles. It is estimated over 10,000 Tesla vehicles were sold in 2021, bringing the actual number of battery electric vehicles sold in Australia to more than 15,000.

Most popular brands and models for 2021

  • Toyota was the most popular vehicle brand for the 19th year in a row, accounting for 21.3 percent of the new vehicle market and outselling its nearest rival Mazda by more than two to one (223,642 versus 101,119 vehicles). Hyundai and Ford rounded off the top four
  • The Toyota Hilux retained its top-selling vehicle status for a record sixth year in a row (52,801 sales), narrowly beating the Ford Ranger (50,279 sales). This is the first time in Australian automotive history that a ute has led the new vehicle market over such a long period. Additionally, 2021 marked the first time that utes and vans combined outsold passenger cars in Australia
  • The boom in ute sales has been led by a rebound in the construction industry, with many skilled tradespeople benefitting economically during the pandemic. In a sign of the times, expensive utes are now considered by many tradespeople as an extension of their ‘office’, as well as a measure of their success
  • Ute sales were also driven by the impetus of tax incentives through the extension of the instant asset write-off scheme to end June 2023, as well as more people choosing to holiday at home and wanting a vehicle they can use for work and leisure
  • Australia’s most popular passenger car in 2021 was the Toyota Corolla for the nineth year in a row (28,768 sales) while the most popular SUV was the Toyota RAV4 (35,751 sales)
  • 2021 was also a record year for Chinese motor vehicles in Australia, with MG having a strong year and ranking the 9th most popular vehicle brand. China now represents our fourth biggest source of motor vehicles behind Japan, Thailand, and South Korea
  • Honda had a disappointing year in 2021 finishing 15th in the sales race with a 39.5 percent slump in sales in a market that grew by 14.5 percent, after switching to a fixed price business model from July 2021
  • Among the mainstream luxury brands, Mercedes-Benz ranked highest in 12th place, despite posting a sales decline of 3.8 percent in 2021, while BMW ranked 13th place with sales up 5.8 percent, followed by Audi in 17th spot up 0.9 percent, and Lexus in 20th spot with sales up five percent
  • Most super-luxury and sports car brands enjoyed a strong recovery in 2021. Bentley recorded 219 sales – up 32.7 percent; Rolls-Royce 48 sales – up 14.3 percent; Maserati 560 – up 19.9 percent; Porsche 4,428 – up 4.4 percent; Lamborghini 131 – up 18 percent; and McLaren 88 – up 39.7 percent
  • Ferrari was an exception to the trend, posting 194 sales – a decline of 5.4 percent in 2021.

The year ahead

Industry expects the new vehicle market will continue to be affected by supply shortages and shipping constraints during 2022, as the automotive industry competes with other technology-based goods companies for access to semiconductor production globally. Supply normality is not expected to return until the end of 2022, with many new car buyers being placed on waiting lists of between three to 10 months.

The good news is there is a healthy forward order bank for new vehicles, and this should translate into improved sales results in 2022, barring any other complications.

Data source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

Statistics will be discussed on the January episode of THE GRILLE, a new automotive industry podcast hosted by Greg RustShane Jacobson and VACC CEO, Geoff Gwilym. Visit:

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