VFACTS March 2022: Petrol down, diesel up as electric cars surge

Sales of petrol cars continue to slide as diesel-powered utes and SUVs continue to dominate the best-sellers’ list. Meanwhile, in electric-car land…

Sales of petrol cars are continuing to fall, according to latest data released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) on Tuesday.

According to the industry body’s VFACTS data, so far this year Australians have bought a total of 135,504 petrol-powered vehicles, down 11.8 per cent over the same period last year – in an overall new-car market down 0.5 per cent.

Passenger cars have been the hardest hit, in line with the general downturn in those segments as buyers continue their ongoing love affair with SUVs and dual-cab utes.

Just 39,120 petrol-powered passenger cars have found new homes so far in 2022, against 49,777 over the same period last year. That’s a decline of 21.4 per cent.

Sales of petrol variants of SUVs have also taken a hit, although at 7.8 per cent the drop isn’t as dramatic.

Petrol power is the only source of motivation recording decline, with the 89,114 diesels sold so far in 2022 representing a 6.5 per cent increase. Sales of ‘conventional’ hybrids are up too, 20,585 against 16,138 over the same time last year, a not insignificant 27.6 per cent jump.

And while plug-in hybrid numbers remain low (1047 sales so far in 2022), these part-time electric vehicles are enjoying a 66.5 per cent increase year-on-year.

Electric vehicles have recorded an astonishing 596.8 per cent increase in sales for the first three months of the year, but that number is skewed by Tesla which has, for the first time, started supplying sales data to the FCAI for VFACTS reports.

A total of 6752 electric vehicles have so far found new homes in 2022. That number includes the 4417 Tesla Model 3s reported as sold from January to March.

But even taking out Tesla’s numbers, sales of EVs are still up 140.9 per cent when compared to the same period last year – 2335 in 2022 against 969 to the end of March last year.

Sales of traditional passenger cars continue to slide, down 9.7 per cent so far in 2022 compared to the corresponding period last year – 53,421 against 59,144.

SUVs have held steady over the same period – 135,425 against last year’s 135,900 – a drop of just 0.3 per cent.

The big winner have been light commercial vehicles – including vans and utes – up 6.8 per cent year-on-year, continuing a trend that began in 2021 when the popular pick-up outsold passenger cars for the first time over a calendar year, relegating the once staple of Aussie roads to third place.

Sales of SUVs surpassed passenger cars in 2016.

The top-selling vehicle in Australia remains the Toyota HiLux with accumulated sales of 14,178 to the end of March. It heads a best-sellers list indicative of the times, with just two passenger cars – Hyundai i30 (eighth) and Toyota Corolla (10th) – scraping inside the top 10.

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