VFACTS August 2021: New-car sales hit by lockdowns


New-car deliveries were down by 12.3 per cent compared to the five-year average prior to the pandemic, as coronavirus lockdowns took their toll.


Australians managed to click-and collect 81,000 new cars in August 2021 amid lockdowns across the country.

This represented a 33 per cent increase compared to the same month last year, which had experienced a record downturn.

However, the new-car sales tally for August 2021 was significantly lower than the five-year average for the same month prior to the pandemic.

Official results for August 2021 – released today – showed 81,199 new motor vehicles were reported as sold nationally, which is 12.3 per cent down from the five-year average and 16 per cent lower than the August record set in 2017.

August 2021 was the 10th month in a row in positive territory, following industry-wide record lows last year in the first wave of the pandemic, and all but two Australian states and territories posted sales gains.

New-car deliveries were down in regions with the strictest lockdowns: NSW (down 7 per cent) and the Australian Capital Territory (down 28.3 per cent).

While showrooms across NSW were able to operate under “click and collect” conditions, dealerships in the ACT were banned from operating after the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries – the car industry’s peak lobby group – sought clarification from the ACT government.


Figures released today show 732,828 new motor vehicles were reported as sold in the eight months to the end of August 2021, an increase of 27.2 per cent.

However, the automotive industry is not celebrating because this year’s sales increases are from a low base, and dealers are forecasting severe slowdowns in the coming months due to stock shortages and a sharp reduction in orders during the latest wave of coronavirus lockdowns.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries – the lobby group for car companies – said the August 2021 results (up 33.1 per cent) represented the “resilience” of the market, however feedback from the showroom floor paints a different picture.


“A lot of the new-car sales figures reported in August were cars ordered months ago,” said James Voortman, the head of the Australian Automotive Dealers Association (AADA), which represents more than 3000 dealerships and 50,000 employees nationally.

“We’re concerned about the months ahead, particularly if lockdowns continue. The number of orders coming in has been way down, and stock shortages look set to continue into next year.”

Japanese car giant Toyota – the top-selling vehicle brand in Australia for almost two decades – announced it will cut global production by almost half this month amid severe stock shortages of critical components such as semiconductors.


Other Top 10 brands have announced similar production slowdowns, and most are quoting delivery times of four to six months, with many unfulfilled orders already spilling into next year.

The Toyota HiLux ute remains Australia’s top-selling vehicle outright – with commanding leads in the August 2021 and year-to-date tallies – and is on-track for its sixth annual win in a row.

However the Ford Ranger 4×4 variant notched up its fourth win in eight months and narrowly leads the Toyota HiLux 4×4 year-to-date.


Toyota remains market leader by a comfortable margin, outselling second-placed Mazda by more than two-to-one.

In other upsets, South Korean car maker Kia ranked in third place for only the third time in its history (after finishing third in May 2021 and April 2020), outsold sister brand Hyundai for the fourth month in row, and finished ahead of Ford for the second time this year.

However, Hyundai leads Kia in the year-to-date tally after Hyundai ranked third for the first three months of this year.

Sales of new motor vehicles from China continue to surge, with August 2021 marking the 12th month in a row that Chinese cars have outsold those from the US.

Chinese cars have now also outsold new motor vehicles from Germany for the eighth month in a row (since January 2021).


The biggest-selling Chinese car brand MG (up 147 per cent), ranked 10th outright in August 2021 and remains in ninth place year-to-date behind Volkswagen and ahead of Subaru. And an MG car made it into the Top 10 vehicle types sold for the second month in a row.

The second-biggest Chinese brand, Great Wall Motors-Haval (up 405 per cent), has now overtaken LDV (up 74.5 per cent) for five months in a row.

The gains of emerging car brands have dented sales of familiar nameplates, with Nissan falling outside the Top 10 for the first time since September 2017, as it too grapples with severe semiconductor shortages. However, Nissan is still inside the Top 10 in the year-to-date tally.


Fellow Japanese brand Honda also released weak sales for August 2021; its result (down 36 per cent) was driven in part by a stock shortages and the transition to a new fixed-price business model in Australia.

Dealers across multiple brands in lockdown areas canvassed by Drive said they wrote up about a quarter of the orders they normally do, and said the August 2021 results disguise the true state of the market.

“In some cases, we don’t know what cars we’ve got coming until we see the truck turn up,” said one major multifranchise dealer, speaking on condition of anonymity as dealers are not permitted to comment publicly about the brands they represent.

“Our order-write is way down so, with lockdowns and everything else that’s going on, who knows what we will be able to deliver (in the months ahead).”


Another dealer said many customers were not making sales enquiries or placing orders because they are not aware that “click and collect” contactless handovers are allowed in most regions, even in lockdown zones.

Many of the Top 10 new cars posted dramatic sales increases compared to the same month last year, in part due an influx of shock from orders placed months ago – and following the first wave of severe shortages in the same month last year.

For example the Toyota HiLux (up 267 per cent), Toyota Prado (up 452 per cent), Toyota Corolla (up 143 per cent) and Isuzu D-Max (up 885 per cent) all came off low bases set in August last year.

Sales of electric cars continue to surge (up 138 per cent in August 2021 versus the same month last year) but the 3101 examples reported as sold still only represent 0.42 per cent of new motor vehicle deliveries, according to official data that excludes Tesla which does not provide its figures.

Data below has been compiled by Drive news journalist William Davis.

TOP 10 CARS in August 2021

Rank Model Sales Change versus same month last year
1 Toyota HiLux 4470 up 267.3 per cent
2 Ford Ranger 3959 up 34.7 per cent
3 Toyota Corolla 3563 up 143.4 per cent
4 Toyota RAV4 3169 down 34.3 per cent
5 Toyota Prado 2731 up 452.8 per cent
6 Mazda CX-5 2239 up 18.8 per cent
7 Hyundai i30 2047 up 43.2 per cent
8 Isuzu D-Max 1941 up 885.0 per cent
9 MG ZS 1700 up 436.3 per cent
10 Mitsubishi Outlander 1638 up 85.1 per cent

TOP 10 CAR BRANDS in August 2021

Rank Brand Sales Change versus same month last year
1 Toyota 19,959 up 60.3 per cent
2 Mazda 7645 up 10.5 per cent
3 Kia 5065 up 12.0 per cent
4 Ford 5058 up 29.8 per cent
5 Hyundai 5016 up 10.9 per cent
6 Mitsubishi 4802 up 11.5 per cent
7 Volkswagen 3793 up 36.2 per cent
8 Subaru 3232 up 57.5 per cent
9 Isuzu 3099 up 290.3 per cent
10 MG 3011 up 147.4 per cent

Passenger cars: Top Three in each segment in August 2021

Micro Kia Picanto (411) Fiat 500 (50) Mitsubishi Mirage (34)
Light < $25k MG 3 (1035) Kia Rio (647) Volkswagen Polo (390)
Light > $25k Mini (133) Audi A1 (54) Citroen C3 (2)
Small < $40k Toyota Corolla (3563) Hyundai i30 (2047) Kia Cerato (1205)
Small > $40k Mercedes–Benz A-Class (257) BMW 1 Series (177) BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe (128)
Medium < $60k Toyota Camry (1422) Mazda 6 (113) Volkswagen Passat (107)
Medium > $60k BMW 3 Series (252) Mercedes–Benz CLA-Class (130) Lexus IS (90)
Large < $70k Kia Stinger (121) Skoda Superb (34)  
Large > $70k Mercedes–Benz E-Class (62) BMW 5 Series (43) Audi A6 (17)
Upper Large < $100k Chrysler 300 (26)    
Upper Large > $100k Mercedes-Benz S-Class (13) BMW 6 Series GT (8) BMW 7-Series (4)
People Movers Kia Carnival (395) Hyundai Staria (101) LDV G10 Wagon (61)
Sports < $80k BMW 2 Series Coupe/Conv (58) Nissan 370Z (49) Ford Mustang (45)
Sports > $80k BMW 4 Series Coupe/Conv (72) Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cpe/Conv (57) Lexus RC (16), Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cpe/Conv (16)
Sports > $200k Porsche 911 (23) Bentley Coupe/Conv (15), Ferrari coupe/convertible (15) Mercedes–AMG GT coupe/convertible (10)

SUVs: Top Three in each segment in August 2021

Light SUV Toyota Yaris Cross (720) Kia Stonic (546) Mazda CX-3 (534)
Small SUV < $40k MG ZS (1700) Mazda CX-30 (1141) Mitsubishi ASX (976)
Small SUV > $40k Audi Q3 (404) Audi Q2 (174) Volvo XC40 (161)
Medium SUV < $60k Toyota RAV4 (3169) Mazda CX-5 (2239) Mitsubishi Outlander (1638)
Medium SUV > $60k Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class (309) BMW X3 (306) Volvo XC60 (295)
SUV Large < $70k Toyota Prado (2731) Isuzu MU-X (1158) Toyota Kluger (984)
SUV Large > $70k Mercedes–Benz GLE (292) BMW X5 (180) Lexus RX (138)
SUV Upper Large < $100k Nissan Patrol Wagon (506) Toyota Landcruiser Wagon (311)  
SUV Upper Large > $100k Mercedes-Benz GLS (104) Land Rover Discovery (87) Mercedes-Benz G-Class (45)

Utes and vans: Top Three in each segment in August 2021

Vans < 2.5t Volkswagen Caddy (106) Renault Kangoo (46) Peugeot Partner (20)
Vans 2.5t-3.5t Toyota HiAce Van (365) LDV G10/G10+ (161) Mitsubishi Express (151)
4×2 Utes Toyota Hilux 4X2 (1146) Isuzu Ute D-Max 4X2 (754) Ford Ranger 4X2 (350)
4×4 Utes Ford Ranger 4X4 (3609) Toyota Hilux 4X4 (3324) Isuzu Ute D-Max 4X4 4X4 (1187)

Joshua Dowling has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years, spending most of that time working for The Sydney Morning Herald (as motoring editor and one of the early members of the Drive team) and News Corp Australia. He joined CarAdvice / Drive in late 2018, and has been a World Car of the Year judge for 10 years.

Read more about Joshua Dowling