Aussie ute obsession propels Toyota to no 1

AUSTRALIA'S ute obsession has cemented Toyota as the most popular brand on the road.

New statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the number of light commercial vehicles - such as utes - rose by almost 490,000 to 3.31 million registered vehicles in the last five years.

Growth in ute registrations almost doubled that of passenger cars.

High-riding SUVs passed regular passenger cars on the sales charts in 2017, pushed on by popular models such as the Toyota LandCruiser. The popularity of utes and SUVs pushed diesel's market share up by almost 10 per cent in the last five years.

The ABS says there are nearly 2.94 million Toyotas on the road today, putting it well ahead of rivals such as Holden (1.67m), Mazda (1.26m) and Ford (1.14m).

Toyota's HiLux has been the best-selling vehicle in the country since 2016, replacing Australian-made sedans in many households as the preferred family car.

The number of homegrown Holden and Ford cars on the road has fallen following the end of Australian vehicle manufacturing in 2016.

Holden registrations dropped by 102,473 vehicles in the last year, while Ford declined by 71,483.

Ford's ranks reduced by 23.6 per cent in the last five years, while Holden dropped by 16.1 per cent. Both brands continue to sell cars following the end of local manufacturing in 2016, though both have struggled to revive the sales dominance of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Of the three brands which stopped building cars locally in the last five years, Holden has faced the toughest transition to life as a car importer, dropping to 10th on the charts with a sales slide of nearly 25 per cent since July 2018.

Mazda numbers increased by 35.3 per cent in the last five years, making it the fastest-growing among the top five brands in the national car park.

South Korea's Kia and Hyundai are up 63 per cent and 31 per cent in the same time frame, suggesting Australians have accepted what were once budget-basic manufacturers as genuine alternatives to established marques.

Luxury cars boomed from 2014-on, with Range Rover registrations doubling in the last five years. Audi increased by 72 per cent in the same time, while BMW and Mercedes increased by 28.5 and 39 per cent.

Car sales overall have slowed by 8.4 per cent for the year to date, resulting in 51,000 fewer sales so far this year.

As a result, the national car fleet has grown slightly older to an average of 10.2 years.

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Tony Weber said "various conditions and circumstances" adversely affected the market in 2019.

"These include a tightening of financial lending, environmental factors such as drought and flood, and a strongly contested federal election," he said.



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