Date Added: 05/01/2017
Australia's best-selling car is no longer a car - it's a ute!
Toyota's "unbreakable" HiLux has made history by becoming the first vehicle other than a passenger car to be the country's best-seller for an entire calendar year.
As the top choice for Australian motorists in 2016, HiLux - which also set a new national record for 4x4 sales - edged out the ever-popular Toyota Corolla, which held the No. 1 spot for the previous three years.
The all-Toyota contest for sales supremacy went down to the wire with HiLux achieving 42,104 sales last year while local buyers snapped up 40,330 Corolla sedans and hatches.
The history-making HiLux-Corolla "quinella" coincides with Toyota achieving sales leadership in Australia for the 20th time in the past 26 years, including the past 14 years in a row.
Toyota, which was the best-selling brand in every state and territory, helped lift the entire industry to a new sales record of almost 1.18 million vehicles in 2016, 2.0 per cent ahead of the previous record set in 2015.
Local motorists bought 209,610 vehicles from Toyota dealers last year, 91,393 more than any other brand and a gain of 1.6 per cent compared with Toyota's sales the previous year.
It was Toyota's best annual sales since 2013 and the 12th time the brand has sold more than 200,000 vehicles in Australia in a year.
Toyota was the only automaker to have three vehicles among the top 10 sellers in 2016 with Camry - which topped the market in December with 4,850 sales - in sixth position overall. Camry has been Australia's best-selling mid-size car since 1994.
Toyota Australia's executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb said the victory by HiLux marked a significant turning point in the Australian automotive industry.
"HiLux has made history as the first vehicle of its type to stand on top of the sales podium in Australia because it has broad appeal with the car-buying public," Mr Cramb said.
"The buyer profile has changed dramatically in recent years, with HiLux progressively offering the upmarket features and comfort demanded by families while maintaining its traditional popularity among tradespeople as the consummate workhorse," he said.
"As recently as 2011, the biggest-selling variant was the 4x2 single cab-chassis in tough-as-nails Workmate trim - a vehicle where 'air-conditioning' meant you opened the windows.
"While demand for that variant has not diminished, and air-conditioning has been made standard, we now sell almost twice as many top-of-the-range 4x4 SR5 double cabs fitted with luxury features such as climate-control air-conditioning, keyless entry and ignition, satellite navigation and the option of leather-accented seats*.
"In fact, shifting consumer preferences resulted in several 'firsts' in 2016: the SR5 was our biggest-selling HiLux grade and accounted for more than half all HiLux 4x4 sales; and an automatic transmission was specified by the majority of buyers."
Mr Cramb said the Corolla sedan would receive a facelift in the early part of 2017 while the Corolla hatch would receive a specification upgrade.
"Corolla can hold its head high because, even though it was pipped by HiLux, it retains its crown as Australia's best-selling passenger car," he said.
Including HiLux (4x2 and 4x4), Corolla and Camry, Toyota led eight individual segments last year; the others were LandCruiser Prado, LandCruiser wagon, HiAce van and HiAce bus.
During its unbroken run as market leader since 2003, Toyota has sold in excess of 2.9 million vehicles in Australia - or more than one million sales ahead of any other brand in the same period. This equates to almost 250 extra Toyota vehicles being sold every single day throughout that period.
In 2016, HiLux sales of 42,104 were the second-highest in the nameplate's history.
The total included a record 31,076 4x4 variants - a gain of 19.8 per cent compared with an average increase of 9.6 for the segment. HiLux held the previous 4x4 record of 29,346 sales in 2013.
In the 4x2 segment, HiLux had its best year since 2012 with 11,028 deliveries - an increase of 19.6 per cent, or more than double the segment average gain of 8.1 per cent.
HiLux was the top-selling vehicle in Western Australia for the ninth year in a row, in Queensland for the 10th straight year and in the Northern Territory for a remarkable 16th consecutive year.
The popularity of HiLux contributed significantly to light-commercial vehicles across the industry racing to an all-time high of 217,750 sales, an increase of 9.4 per cent.
HiLux has been Australia's best-selling commercial vehicle for the past 19 years and the best-selling four-wheel-drive vehicle for the past 12 years.
For nine of those 12 years, it was the outright third best-seller among all vehicles in Australia. In 2012, it was number two. Last year was the fourth time its sales have topped 40,000 deliveries.
Toyota's Corolla celebrates its 50th anniversary in Australia with the title of Australia's best-selling passenger car.
Local motorists bought 40,330 Corolla sedans and hatches in 2016, giving the world's most popular car a margin of 2,558 sales over its nearest segment rival.
Corolla recorded the industry's highest monthly sales three times during the year - February, July and August.
Corolla has teamed with HiLux to hold the top two sales positions year-to-date since August.
Australia helped put Corolla on the global automotive map as the first country to receive Corolla exports, starting with 15 cars being shipped from Japan in November 1966.
The cars went on sale locally in the first half of 1967. Since then, Corolla sales in Australia have totalled 1.38 million cars.