How the car market has changed 2011-2021

A decade ago the Holden Commodore was king and no SUV was a top 15-seller. Let's take a quick look at some major areas of change.

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The 10 cheapest cars on sale in Australia
The 10 cheapest cars on sale in Australia
Mike Costello
Mike Costello
News Editor
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The pace of change is always rising, and new technologies come thick and fast.

But if we step back a bit and look at the Australian new vehicle sales figures from a decade ago and compare them to today, just how different do the two periods look?

What sort of vehicles have Australians fallen for, and abandoned? What are the defining cars, brands and segments of each year? All up, what’s changed?

The VFACTS market sales database distributed by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries lets us look at some numbers from then and now. Such as:

Overall sales

To the end of September 2021, Australian new vehicle sales sit at 816,140. By contrast, sales over the same January to September period in 2011 were 752,128 sales – 8.5 per cent lower.

But this figure is the result of many variables and doesn’t mean much. What’s more interesting is how the market make-up has changed at the next level down.

Brands lost and gained

Brands that were on sale then and aren’t now include Chery, Dodge, Holden, Hummer, Proton, Saab, and Smart. New entrants are Chevrolet, Genesis, Haval, LDV, MG, Ram Trucks, and Tesla.

Passenger cars

Then, 55.7 per cent of sales were classified Passenger Cars (hatchbacks, sedans, wagons, coupes, convertibles, and people-movers). In 2021 their share has plummeted to 21.4 per cent.

The biggest loser was, of course, the Large Car segment occupied by the defunct Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon.

In 2011 Large Cars owned 8.1 per cent share (and falling), whereas today the segment sits at a paltry 0.5 per cent.

The other major change is at the cheaper end, which is being eroded by SUVs and used car sales (prices of which are at all-time highs).

In 2011 Light Cars such as the Mazda 2 and Toyota Yaris had 13.3 per cent market share while today that figure including the Micro Car segment sits at 5.2 per cent.

Small Cars such as the Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla were dominant in 2011 with 24.1 per cent overall market share, whereas today this figure is just 10.7 per cent.

SUVs

In 2011 the market share of SUVs was 23.6 per cent and growing, whereas in 2021 this figure has rocketed to 51.0 per cent.

Australians sure have fallen head over heels for SUVs in the interim, with more options falling under this classification and manufacturers all too eager to cash in.

In 2011 there were 70 different SUV models produced by 28 brands. In 2021 there are 127 SUV models to choose from made by 38 brands.

The single Compact SUV segment in 2011 had 11.8 per cent share of the market.

Today this one segment has branched into sub-classifications called Light SUV, Small SUV and Medium SUV, which combined have 35.9 per cent share.

Light commercials:

Light commercial utes and vans have gone from 18.0 per cent in 2011 to 23.7 per cent in 2021.

Particularly successful today are dual-cab 4×4 utes, which have become the two top-selling vehicles overall (Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux), and which are now genuinely enthusiast-focused at the top end.

Overall market share of 4×4 utes has grown from 10 per cent to 18 per cent over the decade.

Brands

In 2011, the top 10 brands and their respective sales were:

  1. Toyota: 131,371 sales
  2. Holden: 95,932 sales
  3. Ford: 69,495 sales
  4. Mazda: 65,955 sales
  5. Hyundai: 65,129 sales
  6. Nissan: 50,659 sales
  7. Mitsubishi: 46,107 sales
  8. Volkswagen: 32,153 sales
  9. Subaru: 26,874 sales
  10. Honda 23,490 sales

In 2021, the top 10 brands and their respective sales are:

  1. Toyota: 176,771 sales
  2. Mazda: 83,565 sales
  3. Ford: 54,269 sales
  4. Hyundai: 54,169 sales
  5. Kia: 53,316 sales
  6. Mitsubishi: 52,152 aales
  7. Volkswagen: 32,315
  8. Nissan: 31,652
  9. MG: 28,878
  10. Subaru: 28,763

Which means over the period we’ve seen Holden and Honda out of the top 10, and Kia and MG power in. If we track the movement of some major brands over the period from 2011 to 2021 it looks like this:

20112021Change %
Audi11,30412,651Up 11.9%
BMW12,80918,965Up 48.1%
Ford69,49554,269Down 21.9%
Great Wall613613,200Up 115.1%
Honda23,49013,460Down 42.7%
Hyundai65,12954,169Down 16.8%
Isuzu Ute467228,437Up 508.7%
Jeep59905976Down 0.2%
Kia19,02553,316Up 180.2%
Land Rover44035,693Up 29.3%
Lexus44987455Up 65.7%
Mazda65,95583,565Up 26.7%
Merc-Benz15,61426,182Up 67.7%
Mitsubishi46,10752,152Up 13.1%
Nissan50,65931,652Down 37.5%
Skoda18397745Up 321.2%
Subaru26,87428,763Up 7.0%
Suzuki18,18813,314Down 27.0%
Toyota131,371176,771Up 34.5%
Volkswagen32,15332,315Up 0.5%
Volvo39697339Up 84.9%

Models

There has been enormous change when we sift through the top 15 cars then versus now.

  • SUV
  • Passenger
  • LCV

In 2011, the top 15 models and their respective sales were:

  1. Holden Commodore: 31,977 sales*
  2. Mazda 3: 31,439 sales*
  3. Toyota HiLux: 27,689 sales*
  4. Holden Cruze: 25,803 sales*
  5. Toyota Corolla: 24,144 sales*
  6. Hyundai i30: 22,055 sales*
  7. Nissan Navara: 17,021 sales*
  8. Ford Falcon: 14,291 sales*
  9. Mitsubishi Lancer: 14,214 sales*
  10. Toyota Camry: 13,934 sales*
  11. Mazda 2: 13,336 sales*
  12. Mitsubishi Triton: 13,281 sales*
  13. Volkswagen Golf: 13,269 sales*
  14. Ford Ranger: 12,856 sales*
  15. Toyota Yaris: 11,875 sales*

That list comprises 11 passenger vehicles, four light commercials, and zero SUVs.

In 2021, the top 15 models and their respective sales are:

  1. Toyota HiLux: 40,791 sales*
  2. Ford Ranger: 37,551 sales*
  3. Toyota RAV4: 29,263 sales*
  4. Toyota Corolla: 23,404 sales*
  5. Mazda CX-5: 21,333 sales*
  6. Isuzu D-Max: 20,006 sales*
  7. Hyundai i30: 19,134 sales*
  8. Toyota Prado: 17,326 sales*
  9. Mitsubishi Triton: 16,148 sales*
  10. Kia Cerato: 14,802 sales*
  11. MG ZS: 13,740 sales*
  12. Toyota LandCruiser wagon: 12,697 sales*
  13. Mazda BT-50: 12,538 sales*
  14. Mazda 3: 11,698 sales*
  15. Mazda CX-3: 11,250 sales*

That list by contrast comprises four passenger vehicles, five light commercials, and six SUVs.

Sources of cars

In 2011, the top sources of vehicles were:

  1. Japan: 243,488 sales
  2. Thailand: 122,428 sales
  3. Korea: 111,994 sales
  4. Australia: 105,227 sales
  5. Germany: 54,689 sales

In 2021, the top sources of vehicles are:

  • Japan: 280,604 sales
  • Thailand: 177,466 sales
  • Korea: 110,463 sales
  • China: 55,518 sales
  • Germany: 34,116 sales

Out, Australia. In, China.

Got any questions about car sales? Ask away in the comments and I’ll jump in!

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Mike Costello
Mike Costello
Mike Costello is the News Editor at CarExpert.
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