Aust & NZ
12th Jan 2015

And the winner is…

The Toyota Corolla, for top-selling small car of the year!

In a close battle to the end, the Corolla edged out the competition with a 422 unit lead over the second place Mazda3 at the end of calendar year 2014. While the Mazda3 actually sold more vehicles during the month of December (+257), it was not enough to beat out Toyota for the annual win.

Interestingly, this best-selling car – not only in Australia but across the world - was originally dismissed for its outdated engine, transmission offerings, and boring exterior; critics accused the car of being only slightly a step up from the previous model. However, it now appears the 2014 Toyota Corolla was built exactly as it should be. So what makes the Toyota Corolla so sellable?

It seems the original, tried and tested model is precisely what consumers are after. Where the Mazda3 ranks in style and functionality, the Toyota Corolla competes with safe, dependable point A to point B driveability; a basic necessity many car drivers around the world are content with. Car-obsessed consumers are not the Toyota Corolla’s target market, something the brand is conscious of, and explains why the yearly model updates can get away with being less than exciting. Toyota knows what sells (with the Corolla being a top-seller for 13 years now) and smartly, isn’t veering away from the original model anytime soon.

What Other Brands made Head Way in 2014?

Since wrapping up 2014, statistics have shown the year produced the 2nd highest total number of new cars ever sold in Australia, with 1,113,224 units.* With over 1 million vehicles sold, there was plenty of room left in the market for other brands to see success as well. While Toyota took out 18.3% of market share*, becoming the top-selling brand in three different sectors, other brands making headlines include Holden, Mazda, and Mercedes-Benz. Holden took the 2nd slice of market share with 9.5% followed by a close 9% by Mazda. The Mercedes-Benz B Class made 45% growth compared to last year’s numbers and the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class model improved by a whopping 295.6% - putting Mercedes-Benz in the lead among luxury cars.

Everyone in 2014 Really Did Buy a Jeep

In broader news, the SUV market in Australia was the real winner in 2014. Sales reached just over 352,000 units which accounted for over 32% of the market. Which SUV’s were the most sought after? The Hyundai ix35 sold the most units in small SUV’s, the Mazda CX-5 for medium SUV’s, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee took the lead in large SUV sales.

While SUV’s were at the pinnacle of earnings, passenger cars only saw growth from the previous year in one Australian state - New South Wales.

A Closer Look at the Runner-up; What’s to Come in 2015

We spoke a lot about the Toyota Corolla in 2014; however its second place rival is the one to watch in 2015. The Mazda3 made great strides in the last couple of months, outselling the Toyota Corolla for the first time in December and setting a great momentum for the New Year.

Along with strong Mazda3 sales, we expect to see general new car sales soar over the one million dollar mark again in the year to come, sustained by a record number of car loans to support spending. The latest IBISWorld research reveals the 5 year upward trend of financing in Australia isn’t slowing anytime soon, specifically in the automotive industry. Australians seem more than comfortable with the idea of borrowing to buy new cars, having more than doubled the dollar amount financed between 2009 and 2014. Car loans specifically have grown at a faster rate than other forms of borrowing due to low interest rates and an increased confidence in the economy due to the recent property boom.

Stay tuned in February to see how January fared in the world of Australian car sales. We look forward to a great 2015 ride.

*AutoTalk Jan Edition, 2nd January 2015