Toyota expects overall new car sales in Australia to decline in 2024, but the market leader predicts it will buck the trend.

    After the company experienced a record second-half performance in 2023 on the back of stronger supply, Toyota Australia’s vice president of sales and marketing, Sean Hanley, says it has momentum entering the new year plus a healthy order bank.

    “Our supply is strong particularly in the first quarter, and as a result we expect to increase our sales volume in 2024,” he told CarExpert.

    “This will see our market share increase, and we still aspire to get back to 20 per cent market share in the Australian market.”

    A grand total of 1,216,780 new passenger and commercial vehicles were counted as sold in Australia in 2023, up 12.5 per cent year-over-year, besting the previous all-time record of 1,189,116 from 2017.

    Toyota’s sales accounted for 17.68 per cent of that tally.

    Mr Hanley predicts the overall market will decline in 2024 as 2023’s tally reflected the aftermath of pent-up demand.

    “The VFACTS data is all about supply and delivery last year. The numbers don’t reflect the current demand,” he said.

    “We expect the industry this year will return to what we call pre-COVID normal market size, we are forecasting a total of around 1.05 million to 1.1 million units.

    “That’s down on the 2023 market size, but it’s still an incredibly strong result for the Australian market… it wasn’t that many years ago when anything over a million was considered strong.

    “I think the first half will be a little challenging, I think cost of living pressures are real in the Australian market particularly if we see another interest rate increase which is probable between now and June.

    “I think you’ll see the interest rates maybe even come off and come down a little bit sometime in the second half, which will see the market naturally reinvigorate.”

    It could therefore be a similar dichotomy as in 2023.

    Toyota sold 92,235 vehicles in the first half of 2023, but achieved a record 123,005 sales in the second half of 2023 for a total of 215,240 for the calendar year.

    Mr Hanley predicts hybrid and plug-in hybrid models will see a resurgence in popularity in the second half of the year.

    Hybrid vehicles accounted for 33.5 per cent of Toyota’s overall sales in 2023 (and 73.2 per cent of total hybrid sales in Australia), and the company expects hybrid and electric vehicles (excluding its upcoming 48V mild-hybrids) to account for over 40 per cent of its sales in 2024.

    Mr Hanley said supply greatly improved from May last year, allowing it to “substantially” reduce customer wait times.

    “In 2024, wait times for most models will be 4-6 months by mid-year, if not sooner, so we’re expecting to see incredibly reduced wait times on Toyota vehicles,” said Mr Hanley.

    That includes the RAV4 Hybrid, which Toyota says it will have an “incredibly strong supply” of in the first quarter.

    Mr Hanley noted customers’ expectations on wait times had changed.

    “We believe that on some cars, people will wait six months, we believe on some other cars people will wait three months so therefore there’s a new post-COVID tolerance to normal, 3-6 months would be a normal wait time I think moving forward,” he said.

    Toyota has been the market leader in Australia for 21 consecutive years, and boasts that in 19 of the past 20 years its annual sales have exceeded 200,000 vehicles.

    In 2023, it sold more than twice as many vehicles as the second best-selling brand, Mazda.

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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