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Australia’s most profitable car companies revealed

By Barry Park, 12 Dec 2017 News

Australia’s most profitable car companies revealed

Tax office data reveals the brands making money, and those that are struggling

THE company that counts Mercedes-Benz as one of its shining jewels is the most profitable car brand in Australia, data released by the Australian Tax Office shows.

The corporate tax watchdog has released a list of the financial results that the top 2000 public and private companies reported in the 2015-16 financial year.

Using a bit of simple maths – taking the taxable income away from the total income, and dividing it by the number of cars sold between July 2015 and June 2016 – yields a number that shows the strengths - or weaknesses - of 16 of the biggest car brands.

The winner is German brand Daimler, which reported a profit of almost $7300 for every car wearing a Mercedes-Benz badge that it sold here. However it’s worth noting that the wider Daimler group – similar to other car brands that have diversified their businesses in Australia – also sells trucks and buses, commercial vehicles, military vehicles and also offers financial products here. Passenger car and SUV sales may contribute the lion’s share, but they’re not the only contributors to Daimler’s bottom line.


Daimler was closely followed by fellow German brand Porsche, which made the equivalent of more than $6100 for every car sold here in the 2015-16 financial year. There’s a big jump to third-placed BMW, well down on the numbers. It earned the equivalent of almost $3900 on each vehicle sold.

The top three are closely followed by a clutch of mainstream brands – FCA Australia (Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep), the $10 billion-plus market share giant Toyota, and fellow Japanese brand Subaru all earned between $1700-$2000 a sale, the data shows.


A surprise in that mix is Isuzu, the Japanese car company that sells only two products in Australia – the D-Max trade ute and its closely related seven-seat sibling, the MU-X SUV. It makes the equivalent of more than $1800 for each sale it snares.

Volvo also posted strong numbers despite only attracting just more than 5000 sales for the financial year. Its per-car equivalent earned it $990 each time a new owner rolled out of showrooms.


The bottom three earners all earned the equivalent of less than $500 a car. One of them is Korean car-making giant Hyundai, which managed only $403 for every vehicle sold.

Nissan is worse off, earning only $121 a car despite posting the fourth highest income – $2.7 billion –  in our group. It’s in something of a unique position, though, having to support a local manufacturing business that, among other things, casts aluminium covers for inverters fitted to the Nissan Leaf electric car.

And spare a thought for the bottom-dweller, Mitsubishi. It made less than a chicken parmigiana pub meal – just $13.98 – for each car it sold in 2015-16.

NUMBERS GAME: Profitability of Australia's top 16 car brands FY2015-16*                     

Brand                                     Income                       Profit per sale
Daimler (Mercedes-Benz)        $3,618,401,000              $7277.41
Porsche                                     $623,128,382             $6114.80
BMW                                       $2,460,348,916            $3855.74
FCA Australia                           $1,344,085,319            $1971.80
Toyota                                  $10,342,138,099             $1874.69
Isuzu Ute                                     $749,970,414           $1846.81
Subaru                                     $1,450,411,099            $1838.98
Volvo                                          $245,087,390            $994.35
Volkswagen                             $2,123,925,408             $965.18
Kia                                             $833,183,653            $852.33
Audi                                         $1,424,798,175           $765.08
Mazda                                     $2,884,889,150            $700.35
Honda                                       $960,062,001             $455.58
Hyundai                                   $2,257,792,455            $403.25
Nissan                                     $2,704,234,775            $121.33
Mitsubishi                                $2,135,327,314              $13.98
*Source: Australian Tax Office