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Last year was a real mixed bag when it comes to new-vehicle sales in Australia.
On the one hand, it was a strong year in terms of outright volume, with overall sales reaching 1,049,831 units – a 14.5 per cent increase on the decidedly average 2020 tally.
But on the other hand, there were significant stock shortages across most brands and model segments caused by covid-related factory closures and global parts shortages, most notably, the lack of semi-conductors.
That resulted in customers experiencing lengthy wait times for a number of popular models.
But among the ups and downs, a number of carmakers stood out with exceptional sales results. Let’s take a closer look at the winners from the 2021 sales race;
Isuzu Ute has slowly built a very loyal buyer base in Australia and it has managed to achieve that with just two models in its line-up. It has steadily built its sales over the past decade, but last year was a doozy.
Isuzu Ute recorded 35,735 sales in 2021, representing a 61.6 per cent increase on 2020’s result. That was enough to put Isuzu in 11th place for overall sales, just 1280 units behind 10th-placed Subaru (37,015).
Last year was the third-generation D-Max ute’s first full year on sale after landing in showrooms in August 2020. Australian buyers lapped up the new one-tonner, ensuring it placed third in the pick-up segment behind the dominant duo of the Toyota HiLux (52,801) and Ford Ranger (50,279).
The mechanically related MU-X large SUV also landed on Australian shores in second-gen guise in August last year and combined with remaining stock of its predecessor, had its best sales year since the nameplate launched in 2013.
Isuzu sold 10,618 examples of the MU-X, a 50.6 per cent jump over its 2020 result. It was easily the top-selling ute-based model last year, edging the Ford Everest (8359), Mitsubishi Pajero Sport (6804), Toyota Fortuner (3822), LDV D90 (1576) and SsangYong Rexton (742). It was the second best-selling model in the sub-$70,000 large SUV segment behind the Prado (21,299).
Much has been written about MG’s meteoric rise and last year that momentum continued.
The formerly British budget brand was easily the most popular Chinese carmaker in Australia last year, nabbing 39,025 sales – an impressive 155.9 per cent ahead of 2020.
MG edged out Subaru to place ninth for overall sales, just 1745 units behind eighth-placed Volkswagen. This was the first time MG landed in the top 10 for a full year.
Another Chinese manufacturer that is growing in popularity by the day is GWM (Great Wall Motors), which now incorporates SUV sister brand, Haval, as well as its ute offering.
Overall GWM sales grew by a massive 251.2 per cent last year to 18,384 registrations. Of that total, 10,226 were Haval-branded models and GWM clocked up 8158.
The new GWM Ute was the top-selling model in its line-up with 6906 units, the 4x4 version making up the vast majority. The total placed it not far behind the Volkswagen Amarok (7659). Stock of the ageing GWM Steed ute finally ran out in 2021 but not before recording 1252 sales.
The Jolion was the most popular Haval model with 4069 sales for the year. It replaced the H2 which also found 1979 homes before being discontinued. The Jolion scored more registrations than the Suzuki Vitara (3745) and the Skoda Kamiq (2197).
Commercial vehicle brand LDV had another big year, recording 15,188 sales, a 63 per cent leap over its 2020 tally and enough for 18th place for overall sales.
The T60 pick-up couldn’t quite beat its GWM Ute rival, but it was LDV’s best performer with 6705 sales, made up of the original T60 and the T60 Max that arrived late in 2021. The related D90 SUV had a strong year too, up 120.4 per cent to 1576 units.
For a brand that spent most of 2021 in limbo as parent company Mahindra and Mahindra tried to find it a new owner, the South Korean manufacturer did surprisingly well in Australia last year.
SsangYong may have only sold 2978 vehicles in 2021, but it marked a 70 per cent improvement over 2020.
The underrated Musso ute lifted its fortunes by 73.7 per cent to 1883 units and the related Rexton SUV benefited from a fresh face and new engine to record 742 (+129.7%). The Korando mid-size SUV didn’t bother the top sellers but recorded 353 sales (+40.1%).
Like SsangYong, Genesis may not have set the sales charts on fire, but it did announce itself as one of the fastest growing premium brands in Australia in 2021.
After a massive 18 months that saw the launch of the GV80 large SUV, related G80 sedan, a refreshed G70 medium sedan and all-new GV70 SUV, Genesis recorded 734 sales, a 220.5 per cent increase on 2020.
Despite only arriving in August, the GV70 mid-sizer was the best seller for the brand with 317 units, followed by the one-size-larger GV80 that launched in late 2020 with 287.
Genesis has big plans globally and in Australia and the model activity isn’t expected to slow down for a while.
The Hyundai Motor Group-owned marque has announced it will launch three battery electric vehicles here in the first half of 2022, including EV versions of the GV70 and G80, as well as the new GV60 crossover, which is based on the group’s dedicated electric e-GMP platform that underpins the Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5.