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New car sales figures for March 2021: A market in recovery

By WhichCar Staff, 07 Apr 2021 Car News

VFACTS March 2021: Market recovering despite vehicle parts shortages

Despite ongoing holdups on vehicle parts and a global semiconductor shortage, Australia's car sales are bouncing back

Australian new-car sales have emphatically confirmed their resurgence after more than 100,000 vehicles were registered in March.

Official industry figures released today revealed 100,005 vehicles were sold last month – making it five consecutive months of growth after more than two and a half years of declining sales.

March 2021’s total sales were a 22 per cent increase on March 2020, which was the first month to be adversely affected by the then emerging COVID-19 pandemic.

It is the first March since 2018 – Australia’s current record sales year – to break the six-figure barrier and is a result achieved during a time of vehicle-parts shortages chiefly arising from the pandemic.

SUVs and light-commercial vehicles, as well as private buyers, continue to drive the growth.

SUV sales increased 32 per cent month-on-month and are up 26 per cent year to date.

Light commercials – mainly comprising utes and vans – were up 28 per cent compared to March last year and are up 25 per cent year to date.

Light SUVs and Upper Large SUVs were particularly notable, with 123 and 53 per cent year-on-year growth, respectively.

In the ute segment, 4x2 and 4x4 variants both increased by 23 per cent compared with this time last year.

Passenger car sales continued their negative trend, dropping two per cent compared with March 2020 and down nine per cent year to date.

There were three stand-out passenger-car segments, however. Micro cars jumped 74 per cent, albeit from a low base, while there were 43 and 44 per cent increases for Large Cars and People-Movers.

Luxury cars accounted for Large Car growth, up 145 per cent month-on-month, thanks mainly to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the addition of the new electric Porsche Taycan.

People-Movers moved up thanks primarily to new-generation versions of the Kia Carnival and Volkswagen Multivan. The latter was up a staggering 476 per cent compared with March last year.

What were the best-selling models?

The Toyota HiLux smashed past 5000 sales (5319) to be the runaway leader for Most Popular Model, well ahead of the Ford Ranger that still cements its now-regular No.2 position with 3983 sales.

Both utes posted strong year-on-year growth for their 4x2 variants (HiLux up 66 per cent; Ranger up 70 per cent), yet still strong increases for the vastly more popular 4x4 models (up 26 and 45 per cent, respectively).

The Mitsubishi Triton (2492) and Isuzu D-Max (1994) made it four utes in the Top 10, as with January and February.

They were pushed down the table again by the ever-popular Toyota RAV4 medium SUV (3522 sales) and Toyota Corolla small car (2892), though between them was the Mazda CX-5 mid-sized SUV with a rare result above 3000 sales (3022, up 74 per cent).

Hyundai’s i30 small car, now counting a sedan body style after a name change for the Elantra, had its best figures of the year so far – 2514 sales (up 36 per cent) placing it sixth.

Demand for the outgoing Toyota LandCruiser 200-series wagon helped it to eighth place, with a 78 per cent year-on-year climb taking it to 2244 units (and a 61 per cent year-on-year increase).

Mazda’s smallest SUV, the CX-3, just missed out on the Top 10 with 1744 sales (up 66 per cent).

There were plenty of other notable sales performances from individual nameplates.

MG’s ZS compact SUV recorded a March figure of 1510 units – a sensational 322 per cent increase on March 2020.

The latest-generation Subaru Outback has made a stunning start to sales life with a 191 per cent year-on-year jump to 1341 units.

The second half of Isuzu’s showroom double act, the D-Max-based MU-X SUV, grew by 85 per cent (1179 units) compared with March 2020.


  1. TOYOTA HILUX - 5319 - up 49.6% YTD
  2. FORD RANGER - 3983 - up 28.2% YTD
  3. TOYOTA RAV4 - 3522 - up 17.8% YTD
  4. MAZDA CX-5 - 3022 - up 74.3% YTD
  5. TOYOTA COROLLA - 2892 - up 2.8% YTD
  6. HYUNDAI I30 - 2514 - up 35.5% YTD
  7. MITSUBISHI TRITON - 2492 - up 37.5% YTD
  8. TOYOTA LANDCRUISER - 2244 - up 78.0% YTD
  9. ISUZU D-MAX - 1994 - up 35.9% YTD
  10. NISSAN X-TRAIL - 1932 - up 46.0% YTD

The top-selling brands

There was no change to the 2021 form guide in March, with Toyota, Mazda and Hyundai occupying the top three positions.

Mitsubishi maintained fourth from February (it was fifth in January), though Ford jumped Kia courtesy of a 23 per cent increase over March 2020. Comparatively, the Korean car maker was up only three per cent.

Nissan seems to be making seventh place its home, while an impressive start for the new-generation Outback contributed to Subaru’s solid eighth position.

Volkswagen remains in the Top 10, though it was almost displaced for the second consecutive month by Chinese brand MG that was just 50 sales behind.

MG kept Mercedes-Benz (3275) out of the Top 10 for the first time this year.

MG’s growth compared with March 2020 is 168 per cent, though it wasn’t the only Chinese brand to register triple-figure year-on-year increases that are impressive – even if in the context of being compared with the first month affected by COVID-19.

LDV was up 188 per cent (1468 units) and GWM was up 173 per cent.

American 4x4 and SUV brand Jeep continues its comeback, growing 183 per cent year on year to 730 sales for March.

Swedish brand Volvo surprised with a 162 per cent jump, which equated to 992 sales and year-to-date growth of 67 per cent that puts it on track currently to break its 2021 target of 10,000 sales.

Skoda (up 148 per cent to 1032 sales), SsangYong (up 133 per cent to 298 sales) and Renault (up 119 per cent to 739 sales) were other triple-figure brands.

The latter result will be encouraging for independent distributor Ateco and the Renault dealer network. Ateco announced last month that from April onwards it is taking over local management of the French brand from the OEM.

Genesis was up 260 per cent, though this was only to 58 cars as Hyundai’s luxury brand begins a long strategy of establishing itself in Australia.

Hyundai’s own growth of 29 per cent was impressive for a Top 10 brand and helps create some distance to its sister brand Kia, which had been starting to breath down its neck. 


  1. TOYOTA - 21,319 - up 21.2% YTD
  2. MAZDA - 10,785 - up 58.2% YTD
  3. HYUNDAI - 6852 - up 29.1% YTD
  4. MITSUBISHI - 6430 - up 7.1% YTD
  5. FORD - 5977 - up 23.1% YTD
  6. KIA - 5802 - up 2.6% YTD
  7. NISSAN - 4559 - up 30.2% YTD
  8. SUBARU - 4212 - up 39.3% YTD
  9. VOLKSWAGEN - 3358 - up 17.0% YTD
  10. MG - 3303 - up 167.7% YTD

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