Nobody wants passenger cars anymore

passenger cars

Only one passenger car entered the Top 10 sales charts in February 2022, the first time on record. Australians have made a big shift in their preferences. After all, the last time passenger cars outsold SUVs was in 2016. Is it true nobody wants passenger cars anymore?

Our favourite new cars in February 2022

The top 3 new cars sold in February 2022 were, in order, Toyota HiLux, Toyota RAV4 and Mitsubishi Triton (the first time it beat Ford Ranger since 2015). There were four utes and five SUVs in the top 10.

Hyundai i30 hatch was the lonely passenger car in place 10. It beat Toyota Corolla by two places, which used to be Australia’s top-selling car until 6 years ago.

Market shares over 12 years show the decline of the passenger car:

  2022  2010
Passenger cars  18.4%   58.9%
Utes and vans  24.5%  20.9%
SUVs     52.7%  20.2%

In 2010, the most popular car was the Holden Commodore. Even when Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla took the lead, they were still passenger cars.

In the last 5 years, Toyota HiLux came out on top and Ford Ranger came second for four of them. In the 12 months to February 2021, sales of new utes overtook sales of passenger cars for the first time.

Why aren’t we buying passenger cars?

The standard reason is we prefer to buy SUVs. We have explored why people buy SUVs in another article. Naturally, manufacturers want to make what people want to buy.

However, there’s another reason why manufacturers prefer to make SUVs. Light hatchbacks and small cars have small profit margins. Many dealers make a loss on, for example, light hatchbacks and try to recoup profit through servicing and accessories.

Even though SUVs are usually more expensive to buy than passenger cars, they don’t cost more to manufacture. The fortunes of passenger cars are unlikely to improve as long as manufacturers can’t make reasonable profits on them. In fact, their current more pressing problem is how to make profits on electric cars.

Passenger cars that still sell

If you do want to buy a passenger car, the top 3 bestsellers are Hyundai i30, Toyota Corolla and Kia Cerato. These are some other passenger cars still selling strongly:

  • Alfa Romeo Giulia
  • Bentley Continental GT
  • Citroen C3
  • Mercedes-Benz A Class
  • Mini Hatch
  • Suzuki Swift.

It’s worth noting also the death of the manual transmission in passenger cars. Less than 5% of Toyotas sold are manual transmission. The popular Toyota Yaris and Corolla no longer have manual transmissions. Jeep and MG, don’t sell any manual transmissions in this country. Peugeot and Mercedes-Benz offer manual in commercial vehicles only. Later premium models of Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux and the GWM ute are auto only.

Greenslips tend to be cheaper for motor cars

In general, greenslips are cheaper for passenger cars than they are for utes or light goods vehicles. Green slip prices are higher for utes and some SUVs than for passenger cars because these vehicles are more often in accidents and their drivers more likely to make claims.

However, green slip prices depend on much more than the type of vehicle.

Find your cheapest green slip here.

Corrina Baird

Writer and expert

Corrina used to lend her car to her kids and discovered first hand what Ls, Ps and demerits mean for greenslips. After 20 years of writing and research in financial services, she’s an expert in the NSW CTP scheme. Read more about Corrina

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