January car sales down as chip shortage bites

2021 Mazda CX-5

Craig Duff

Posted February 03, 2022

The car industry is still being hammered by a shortage of computer chips and COVID-19 staff shortages across the supply chain.

Car companies are spitting chips. Figuratively speaking of course, given they’re literally desperate to source computer chips to return to building vehicles at a rate that matches demand.

Simply put, they could sell more vehicles if they could get stock into the country, with wait times blowing out to 12 months for some models.

As a result, Australian new vehicles sales were down 4.8 per cent in January compared to the same month in 2021, according to VFACTS data released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

FCAI chief executive Tony Weber attributes the drop to 75,863 vehicles to roadblocks across the sector.

“The microprocessor shortage and the pandemic’s impact on supply chains continues into 2022. This is an issue impacting markets all over the globe,” Mr Weber says.

“Despite this, consumer interest, inquiry, and the fundamental demand for new cars in Australia remains strong.”

“Manufacturers are continuing to work hard to address supply chain and production issues. We are also experiencing bottlenecks in having vehicles processed from some Australian ports.”

Victoria saw a fall of just 1.6 per cent, to 20,397 sales for January. Tasmania actually grew by more than 15 per cent to 1,468.

Top five utes of January 2022
Top five small SUVs of January 2022
Top five small cars of January 2022
Top five medium SUVs of January 2022
Top five large SUVs of January 2022
Top five light cars of January 2022.

SUVs stand out

SUVs continue to dominate the sales charts, accounting for 52 per cent of all registrations last month. Light commercials, which includes four-door utes, sold 18,259 vehicles.

Passenger cars continued to decline with the 15,737 vehicles down by almost 3,000 units on January 2021, representing a drop of more than 15 per cent.

The brand battle was much as expected.

Toyota continued its dominance of the local market, selling 15,333 cars. Mazda was the second best-performing marque with 9,805 sales but crucially managed to increase its volume by 1,000 cars over this time last year, whereas Toyota was down more than 1,500 vehicles.

Mitsubishi and Kia also improved sales year-on-year to be third and fourth with 6,533 and 5,520 sales respectively.

The result saw Kia leapfrog stablemate Hyundai, which sits in fifth place with 5,128 sales for the month.

Ford sits in sixth place with 4,528 sales in January, ahead of high-flying newcomer MG which posted 3,538 registrations.

Rounding out the top 10 was Subaru (2,722), Isuzu (2,715) and Nissan (2,334). 


Mitsubishi Triton on the road

Four-door utes like the Mitsubishi Triton account for four of the top 10 models.

HiLux still the local hero

The model mix continues to be dominated by four-door utes and SUVs.

Toyota’s HiLux was the best-selling vehicle in the country with 3,591 examples being registered, just ahead of the Ford Ranger on 3,245.

The Mazda CX-5 placed third with 3,213 sales, ahead of the Mitsubishi Triton (2,876) and Toyota Prado (2,566).

Isuzu’s D-Max ute was sixth with 1,895 sales, ahead of the Hyundai i30 on 1,642.

Chinese brand MG had two vehicles in the top 10, which is a huge effort by the “upstart” brand.

The MG ZS SUV was eighth in the January rankings on 1,588 sales, edging out the MG MG3 light passenger car by just 37 sales.

Subaru’s perennial performer, the Forester, rounded out the top 10 with 1,480 sales.


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