Author: Amelia McVeigh | Posted On: 11 Apr 2023
Monthly vehicle sales increased in March, up 12% from February as EVs and Chinese manufacturers continued their strong start to 2023. Despite this, it was still the weakest March in the last decade (excluding the COVID-impacted 2020) with manufacturers facing ongoing issues around vehicle availability.
March Top 5
- The 97,251 monthly new vehicles sold is up over 10,000 from February (86,878) – historically though, March is a 100k+ month.
- SUVs continue to lead the way, with YTD Medium SUV sales up 19% vs. 2022.
- 4,531 HCVs sold in March, setting up another positive year for this segment. Can 2023 outperform 2022’s record result (47,359 vehicles)?
- GWM, Ford, Subaru, Isuzu and BYD recorded the highest YoY increase in monthly sales, responsible for one in five of the deals written (19,270 sales).
- Toyota slumping, with just 13,223 sales in March (dropping share to 14% from 22% in 2022).
Supply Chain Issues
Manufacturers are still working to catch up with orders in the face of ongoing supply chain disruptions and semiconductor shortages, but some have been hit harder than others. This has had serious consequences for Toyota, with wait times on core models still sitting around the 6-month mark. Of the top 10 manufacturers this quarter, Toyota’s average wait time is more than a month beyond the closet competitor, forcing customers to start looking to alternate makes and models.
The average wait time for a new car in Australia is 126 days, compared to Toyota’s average of 230 days. At a model level, RAV4 purchasers face a 218 day wait, with the Corolla and Landcruiser averaging over 260 days. We can see the impact of this on sales, with RAV4 sales down 44% YTD and Corolla down 34% YTD.
Brand Wars Continue
The top 5 manufacturers for the first quarter of 2022 were Toyota, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Kia and Hyundai, owning 56% of new vehicle sales. While the 2023 top 5 is mostly unchanged (with the exception of Ford replacing Mitsubishi), their share of sales has dropped to 45%.
This is being driven by different sectors of the market. On the one hand, EV giant Tesla and relative newcomer (but global EV specialist) BYD have captured an additional 8,088 sales YoY in the first quarter. Other Chinese brands are also recording strong growth, with GWM increasing sales YoY by 5,308k vehicles off the back of 20 day delivery timeframes, while LDV (up almost 1,500 sales) and MG (up over 1,000 units) are both also performing well. At the premium end of the market, VW Group brands Volkswagen (up 2,823 sales), Audi (up 2,090 sales) and Skoda (up 498 sales) are growing volumes YoY, with new entrant Cupra also booking 808 sales through the first quarter.
These trends suggest more change is coming, with EV growth continuing, and customers willing to prioritise availability over brand loyalty. There’s no question Toyota can and will recover, but it’s a question of how long it takes, and which other manufacturers take the opportunity to boost sales.
Only time will tell, but it will be one hell of a ride!