Australian vehicle sales for December 2018 (VFACTS) – best of the year

The New Year is well and truly under way, which means it’s time to look back at 2018 to see what vehicles and what brands were the most popular for the year. National VFACTS figures for new vehicle registrations in Australia for December 2018 have just been released.

Kicking off with the most popular vehicle brands. Toyota, no doubt, has come through as the overall favourite. This is, unbelievably, the 16th year in a row at the top for the Japanese brand in Australia. This placing was helped by excelling sales of the HiLux, as well as the Prado, Kluger and RAV4. Further down the top 10 overall brands for the year, Mitsubishi has moved up from fifth in 2017 to fourth in 2018, while Kia moves up to seventh.

Toyota also reported the highest monthly sales figure for December. Interestingly, Mitsubishi moved up to third place behind Mazda for the month, pushing Hyundai to fourth. See below for the top 10 best-selling car brands for December 2018 and then below for 2018 overall.

  1. Toyota – 15,991 (down from 18,271 of November 2018 sales)
  2. Mazda – 8129 (down from 8905)
  3. Mitsubishi – 7306 (down from 6953)
  4. Hyundai – 5766 (down from 7869)
  5. Ford – 5230 (down from 5519)
  6. Holden – 4822 (down from 5125)
  7. Nissan – 4534 (down from 5330)
  8. Volkswagen – 4291 (down from 4713)
  9. Kia – 4214 (down from 4644)
  10. Honda – 4189 (up from 3732)

Top 10 vehicle brands in 2018 overall:

  1. Toyota – 217,061 (up from 216,566 in 2017)
  2. Mazda – 111,280 (down from 116,349)
  3. Hyundai – 94,187 (down from 97,013)
  4. Mitsubishi – 84,944 (up from 80,654)
  5. Ford – 69,081 (down from 78,161)
  6. Holden – 60,751 (down from 90,306)
  7. Kia – 58,815 (up from 54,737)
  8. Nissan – 57,699 (up from 56,594)
  9. Volkswagen – 56,620 (down from 58,004)
  10. Honda – 51,525 (down from 52,511)

In terms of the top-selling models, it’s the Toyota HiLux that takes the crown for both the month of December and for 2018 overall. Isuzu punched hard into the front-runners for the month of December, placing fourth overall, while the Holden Commodore is nowhere to be seen in the top 10 overall for the year for the first time in decades. The top 10 best-selling vehicles for December 2018 and 2018 overall were as follows:

  1. Toyota HiLux – 3871 (down from 4671)
  2. Ford Ranger – 3365 (down from 3469)
  3. Toyota Corolla – 2311 (down from 2659)
  4. Isuzu D-Max – 2184 (up from 1587)
  5. Mazda3 – 2285 (down from 2342)
  6. Mitsubishi Triton – 2000 (down from 2404)
  7. Mazda CX-5 – 1990 (down from 1998)
  8. Hyundai i30 – 1772 (down from 2378)
  9. Toyota RAV4 – 1729 (down from 1936)
  10. Nissan X-Trail – 1661 (down from 1942)

Top 10 models for 2018 overall:

  1. Toyota HiLux – 51,705 (up from 47,093 in 2017)
  2. Ford Ranger – 42,144 (down from 42,728)
  3. Toyota Corolla – 35,320 (down from 37,353)
  4. Mazda3 – 31,065 (down from 32,690)
  5. Hyundai i30 – 28,188 (down from 28,780)
  6. Mazda CX-5 – 26,173 (up from 25,831)
  7. Mitsubishi Triton – 24,896 (up from 23,605)
  8. Toyota RAV4 – 22,165 (down from 25,831)
  9. Nissan X-Trail – 21,192 (up from 18,955)
  10. Hyundai Tucson – 19,261 (down from 23,868)

Small Cars under $40,000 – In terms of the popular small car class, the Corolla retained its lead from the previous month, leaving close rival Mazda3 just behind. Big sales of the Mitsubishi Lancer moved it up to sixth place for the month, while the rest of the top 10 remained pretty steady.

Despite an all-new model launching in 2018 (albeit towards the end of the year), Toyota Corolla annual sales actually dropped from last year. It still stands tallest above the rest, but sales were down 5.4 per cent. Mazda3 sales were also down, 5.0 per cent, as with Hyundai i30 figures, down 2.1 per cent. The class overall reported a 9.0 per cent drop in overall sales for the year, perhaps caused by the increase in popularity of utes and SUVs. The top 10 best-selling small cars in December and 2018 overall were as follows:

  1. Toyota Corolla – 2311 (down from 2659)
  2. Mazda3 – 2285 (down from 2342)
  3. Hyundai i30 – 1772 (down from 2378)
  4. Volkswagen Golf – 1220 (down from 1372)
  5. Kia Cerato – 1206 (down from 1351)
  6. Mitsubishi Lancer – 1192 (up from 511)
  7. Honda Civic – 1162 (up from 969)
  8. Holden Astra – 1067 (up from 1000)
  9. Subaru Impreza – 577 (down from 582)
  10. Hyundai Elantra –  228 (down from 231)

Top 10 models for 2018 overall:

  1. Toyota Corolla – 35,320 (down from 37,353 in 2017)
  2. Mazda3 – 31,065 (down from 32,690)
  3. Hyundai i30 – 28,188 (down from 28,780)
  4. Volkswagen Golf – 19,076 (up from 18,454)
  5. Kia Cerato – 18,620 (down from 18,731)
  6. Honda Civic – 13,470 (down from 14,672)
  7. Holden Astra – 9876 (down from 13,535)
  8. Subaru Impreza – 9215 (downp from 11,903)
  9. Mitsubishi Lancer – 7043 (down from 7560)
  10. Ford Focus – 3875 (down from 5953)

Medium Cars under $60,000 – The Toyota Camry continues to lead this class, although figures for the popular Japanese sedan are down on last year’s efforts. Toyota saw a 34.4 per cent decrease in sales for the year. It’s not just Toyota that suffered though. The segment reported a 30 per cent drop in sales from 2017 to 2018. The top five best-selling models in this class for December and all of 2018 were as follows:

  1. Toyota Camry – 1280 (down from 1295 of November)
  2. Mazda6 – 244 (down from 325)
  3. Volkswagen Passat – 137 (up from 123)
  4. Ford Mondeo – 81 (down from 126)
  5. Hyundai Sonata – 76 (equal)

Top 5 for 2018 overall:

  1. Toyota Camry – 15,269 (down from 23,620 in 2017)
  2. Mazda6 – 3328 (down from 3647)
  3. Ford Mondeo – 1914 (down from 2959)
  4. Volkswagen Passat – 1804 (down from 2463)
  5. Skoda Octavia – 1794 (down from 1882)

Medium Cars over $60,000 – Into the luxury stuff, and it looks like the Mercedes C-Class has taken the crown for December. Its nearest rival, the BMW 3 Series, didn’t even manage a quarter of the sales of the C-Class. For the year overall it’s a little bit tighter, although the C-Class clearly claimed the lead. The top five best-selling vehicles in this class during December and all of 2018 were as follows:

  1. Mercedes-Benz C-Class – 660 (up from 183)
  2. BMW 3 Series – 161 (down from 226)
  3. Audi A4 – 143 (up from 120)
  4. Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class – 136 (down from 137)
  5. Jaguar XE – 70 (down from 83)

Top 5 for 2018 overall:

  1. Mercedes-Benz C-Class – 5055 (down from 8549 in 2017)
  2. Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class – 3086 (down from 3445)
  3. BMW 3 Series – 3079 (up from 2584)
  4. Audi A4 – 1625 (down from 2177)
  5. Lexus IS – 1089 (down from 1524)

Large Cars under $70,000 – This segment continues to dwindle, especially since the Ford Falcon and Aussie-made Holden Commodore are now well and truly out of the picture. Decent Euro-built Holden Commodore sales gave it top place for the month, with an even more commanding lead for the year overall.

During 2018 there were 6 sales of the Ford Falcon, which suggests some were still sitting in the yards. As for the Commodore, its sales are down 61.8 per cent for the year. The top five best-selling vehicles in this segment for December and all of 2018 were as follows:

  1. Holden Commodore – 381 (down from 701 in November)
  2. Kia Stinger – 144 (up from 122)
  3. Skoda Superb – 37 (down from 87)
  4. Hyundai Genesis– 0 (0)
  5. Peugeot 508 – 0 (0)

Top 5 for 2018 overall:

  1. Holden Commodore – 9040 (down from 23,676 in 2017)
  2. Kia Stinger – 1957 (up from 504)
  3. Skoda Superb – 837 (down from 984)
  4. Toyota Aurion – 144 (down from 2701)
  5. Ford Falcon – 6 (down from 210)

Large Cars over $70,000 – Over in the executive class, the Mercedes E-Class took the gold for the month, followed not too far behind by the BMW 5 Series. For the overall year though the E-Class set a commanding pace ahead of all rivals. The top five best-selling vehicles in this segment in December and all of 2018 were as follows:

  1. Mercedes-Benz E-Class – 104 (down from 126)
  2. BMW 5 Series – 84 (up from 79)
  3. Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class – 24 (up from 10)
  4. Audi A7 – 17 (up from 16)
  5. Maserati Ghibli – 11 (down from 13)

Top 5 for 2018 overall:

  1. Mercedes-Benz E-Class – 1531 (down from 1896 in 2017)
  2. BMW 5 Series – 815 (down from 1245)
  3. Audi A6 – 241 (down from 315)
  4. Jaguar XF – 222 (down from 249)
  5. Maserati Ghibli – 194 (down from 219)

Sports Car under $80,000 – Those interested in fun behind the wheel seem to have flocked to the Ford Mustang all year. The muscle car easily outsold all rivals, and the same can be said for the month of December alone. BMW’s 2 Series moved up to second spot for the year following strong sales all year, while the new Renault Megane RS is making ground in the monthly stats. The top five best-selling vehicles in this class for December and all of 2018 were as follows:

  1. Ford Mustang – 439 (down from 780 of November)
  2. BMW 2 Series Coupe/Convertible – 85 (down from 91)
  3. Toyota 86 – 64 (down from 72)
  4. Renault Megane RS – 53 (up from 45)
  5. Mazda MX-5 – 41 (down from 84)
    (Subaru WRX – 123 [down from 138] – not officially in this segment, shown for comparison)

Top 5 for 2018 overall:

  1. Ford Mustang – 6412 (down from 9165 in 2017)
  2. BMW 2 Series Coupe/Convertible – 1361 (down from 1750)
  3. Toyota 86 – 957 (down from 1619)
  4. Mazda MX-5 – 835 (down from 1459)
  5. Subaru BRZ – 688 (up from 663)
    (Subaru WRX – 2139 [down from 2614] – not officially in this segment, shown for comparison)

Sport Cars over $80,000 – Moving up into the more serious stuff, the Mercedes C-Class two-door follows in the footsteps of the sedan. It set the highest figure in the class for December, and for 2018 overall. The Audi A5 just missed out on second place for the month. Sales in this segment are down 28.7 per cent for the year. The top five best-selling models in this category for December and all of 2018 were as follows:

  1. Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe/Convertible – 125 (up from 19)
  2. Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe/Convertible – 48 (down from 60)
  3. Audi A5 – 43 (equal)
  4. BMW 4 Series Coupe – 20 (down from 33)
  5. Lexus RC – 15 (down from 17)

Top 5 for 2018 overall:

  1. Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe/Convertible – 1520 (down from 2818 in 2017)
  2. Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe/Convertible – 751 (up from 688)
  3. BMW 4 Series – 645 (down from 1057)
  4. Audi A5 – 594 (down from 600)
  5. Lexus RC – 334 (down from 370)

Sport Cars over $200,000 – We’ve seen a few interesting moves in this class during the year, with big sales of Ferrari models and other high-end supercars. Despite a drop in market sales overall in 2018 (more on that at the end of this report), this class reported only a 2.5 per cent decline. Ferrari experienced a 14.8 per cent rise, and Aston Martin sales are up 20.1 per cent, as well as Porsche 911 sales jumping 18.6 per cent for the year. The top five best-selling vehicles in the segment during December and all of 2018 were as follows:

  1. Aston Martin (not specified) – 25 (up from 15)
  2. Porsche 911 – 23 (up from 18)
  3. Ferrari (not specified) – 19 (down from 25)
  4. Bentley Coupe/Convertible – 12 (up from 9)
  5. Mercedes-AMG GT – 8 (down from 10)

Top 5 for 2018 overall:

  1. Porsche 911 – 511 (up from 431)
  2. Ferrari (not specified) – 241 (up from 210)
  3. Mercedes-AMG GT – 172 (up from 149)
  4. Aston Martin (not specified) – 161 (up from 134)
  5. Lamborghini – 112 (down from 122)

Combined 4×2 and 4×4 ute – The Toyota HiLux takes the crown here for both December and for 2018 overall. However, the Ford Ranger isn’t far behind. There were no major movements for the top 10 for December, except the Isuzu D-Max shifted up into an impressive third spot.

A jump in D-Max sales helped move the nameplate into fourth spot overall for the year. Meanwhile, Toyota managed to increase its sales of the HiLux, while some others experienced minor drops. The top 10 best-selling utes (4×2 and 4×4 combined – excludes LandCruiser) for December and all of 2018 were as follows:

  1. Toyota HiLux – 3871 (down from 4671 from November 2018)
  2. Ford Ranger – 3365 (down from 3469)
  3. Isuzu D-Max – 2184 (up from 1587)
  4. Mitsubishi Triton – 2000 (down from 2404)
  5. Nissan Navara – 1529 (up from 1496)
  6. Holden Colorado – 1437 (up from 1364)
  7. Mazda BT-50 – 945 (down from 1080)
  8. Volkswagen Amarok – 773 (down from 913)
  9. Mercedes-Benz X-Class – 288 (up from 121)
  10. LDV T60 – 244 (down from 457)

Top 10 for 2018 overall:

  1. Toyota HiLux – 51,705 (up from 47,093 in 2017)
  2. Ford Ranger – 42,144 (down from 42,728)
  3. Mitsubishi Triton – 24,896 (up from 23,605)
  4. Isuzu D-Max – 18,550 (up from 17,717)
  5. Holden Colorado – 18,301 (down from 21,579)
  6. Nissan Navara – 16,469 (down from 16,532)
  7. Mazda BT-50 – 13,167 (down from 14,119)
  8. Volkswagen Amarok – 9290 (up from 9282)
  9. LDV T60 – 3210 (up from 334)
  10. Mercedes-Benz X-Class – 1545 (new model)

Finally, the SUVs. These dominated the market in 2018, accounting for a whopping 43 per cent of vehicle sales (up from 39.2 per cent market share in 2017). The most popular SUV for the year was, yet again, the Mazda CX-5. It reported a 1.3 per cent increase in sales over 2017.

During all of 2018, the ‘Medium under $60,000’ segment was the most popular, contributing 174,259 sales, up 5.7 per cent on 2017. The ‘Small under $40,000’ SUV class jumped into second place, from third in 2017. It reported 122,706 sales, up 17.2 per cent for the year. This leaves the ‘Large under $70,000’ segment in third, with 115,502 sales, down 0.5 per cent.

The top three best-selling SUVs in all categories for December and for all of 2018 were as follows:

  • SUV Small under $40,000:
    Mitsubishi ASX – 1300 (up from 1261 in November 2018)
    Mazda CX-3 – 1068 (down from 1302)
    Nissan Qashqai – 988 (down from 1343)
    Overall for 2018
    Mitsubishi ASX – 19,034 (down from 19,403 in 2017)
    Mazda CX-3 – 16,293 (down from 17,490)
    Nissan Qashqai – 13,950 (up from 13,495)
  • SUV Small above $40,000:
    BMW X1 – 256 (up from 206)
    Mercedes-Benz GLA – 242 (down from 277)
    Audi Q3 – 209 (down from 226)
    Overall in 2018
    Mercedes-Benz GLA – 3906 (up from 3321)
    BMW X1 – 3096 (down from 3658)
    Audi Q3 – 2497 (down from 2843)
  • SUV Medium under $60,000:
    Mazda CX-5 – 1990 (down from 1998)
    Nissan X-Trail – 1661 (down from 1942)
    Toyota RAV4 – 1729 (down from 1936)
    Overall in 2018
    Mazda CX-5 – 26,173 (up from 25,831)
    Toyota RAV4 – 22,165 (up from 21,077)
    Nissan X-Trail – 21,192 (up from 18,955)
  • SUV Medium above $60,000:
    Audi Q5 – 427 (up from 317)
    BMW X3 – 295 (down from 310)
    Mercedes-Benz GLC – 236 (down from 315)
    Overall in 2018
    Mercedes-Benz GLC – 5605 (up from 4109)
    BMW X3 – 4864 (up from 3671)
    Audi Q5 – 4086 (up from 3364)
  • SUV Large under $70,000:
    Toyota LandCruiser Prado – 1462 (down from 1464)
    Toyota Kluger – 1166 (down from 1174)
    Isuzu MU-X – 1060 (up from 800)
    Overall in 2018
    Toyota LandCruiser Prado – 18,553 (up from 15,982)
    Toyota Kluger – 14,743 (up from 12,509)
    Subaru Outback – 10,378 (down from 11,340)
  • SUV Large above $70,000:
    Range Rover Sport – 290 (up from 68)
    BMW X5 – 223 (up from 200)
    Lexus RX – 189 (up from 152)
    Overall in 2018
    BMW X5 – 2700 (down from 3582)
    Range Rover Sport – 2258 (down from 2983)
    Lexus RX – 2051 (up from 1858)
  • SUV Upper Large under $100,000:
    Toyota LandCruiser – 953 (down from 1162)
    Nissan Patrol – 84 (down from 110)
    Overall in 2018
    Toyota LandCruiser – 13,677 (up from 12,814)
    Nissan Patrol – 1259 (up from 916)
  • SUV Upper Large above $100,000:
    Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class – 36 (down from 56)
    Mercedes-Benz G-Class – 32 (up from 15)
    Lexus LX – 31 (down from 38)
    Overall in 2018
    Mercedes-Benz GLS – 956 (up from 926)
    Lexus LX – 404 (up from 324)
    Range Rover – 283 (down from 436)

Total new vehicle sales in Australia in December were down on November figures. During December, Australian consumers bought 87,528 vehicles according to VFACTS, compared with 93,860 in November. Overall sales for the month were down 14.9 per cent compared with December 2017, and down 3.0 per cent year-to-date.

Australians bought 1,153,111 vehicles during the entire 2018 year, down from 1,189,116 during all of 2017.

Brett is the editor and founder of PerformanceDrive. He's obsessed with driving, having played with Matchbox cars until he was tall enough to drive a real one. After initially working as a mechanic, Brett earned a degree in journalism and entered media as an editorial assistant at Top Gear Australia magazine. He then worked at CarAdvice.com.au. His dream is to live next door to the Nurburgring in Germany.