Industry Sales Results

Chinese cars have made it into the Top 10 on the annual new-car sales charts for the first time in Australian automotive history.

Australians last year bought more new cars made in China than any other time in our automotive history, as many former Holden dealers switched to Chinese brands such as MG, LDV and Great Wall Motors Haval.

After strong sales throughout 2021, China now ranks as Australia’s fourth biggest source of motor vehicles behind Japan, Thailand, and South Korea for the first time in a calendar year – ahead of the US and Germany.

Dealers that represent multiple automotive brands said new cars sourced from China were in plentiful supply compared to production constraints across the rest of the car industry.

It means Chinese brands such as MG, LDV and Great Wall Motors Haval were able to make big gains while many other automotive giants struggled.

However, towards the end of last year, supply of new motor vehicles from China was also starting to be impacted by the semiconductor shortage that has crippled the global automotive industry, say dealer sources who represent multiple car brands.

Industry analysts believe sales of Chinese cars in Australia could overtake those from South Korea – namely Hyundai and Kia – within the next three years if the current rate of growth continues.

The country-of-origin split across new vehicle sales in Australia in 2021 was as follows:

  • Japan (350,934, or 33.4 per cent of the total market)
  • Thailand (230,520, or 22 per cent of the total market)
  • South Korea (145,025, or 13.8 per cent of the total market)
  • China (76,262, or 7.3 per cent of the total market)
  • Germany (43,143, or 4.1 per cent of the total market)
  • USA (34,958, or 3.3 per cent of the total market)
  • Other (168,989, or 16.1 per cent of the total market)

As reported by Drive earlier, Chinese brand MG made it into the Top 10 for the first time in a calendar year, ranking ninth (behind Volkswagen and ahead of Subaru).

The record result put MG comfortably ahead of fellow Chinese brands Great Wall Motors Haval (14th) and LDV (18th).

MG also had a vehicle inside the Top 10 selling models in a calendar year for the first time ever.

The MG ZS SUV ranked 10th outright for the year and eighth outright in December, on the list of most popular models.

MG – which is owned by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) – reported just shy of 40,000 new motor vehicles as sold in 2021.

That’s more than double MG’s tally in Australia from the previous year.

Great Wall Motors Haval reported 18,000 new motor vehicles as sold in Australia in 2021, more than triple its tally from the previous year.

The independently-distributed LDV brand – which specialises in utes and vans – posted a record 15,000 new vehicle deliveries, an increase of 62 per cent compared to the prior year.

Representatives for all three Chinese brands in Australia said they could have sold even more vehicles had they been able to import enough showroom stock.

The rise of Chinese vehicles appears to be gaining serious momentum after a stalled start more than a decade ago.

However no further details or launch timing for Chery cars in Australia have been announced, beyond suggestions the brand could arrive as soon as 2022.

The Chery brand was sold in Australia from 2011 to 2015 but left under a cloud after some of its vehicles were found to have contained asbestos – a banned cancer-causing material in Australia.

Chery vehicles also performed poorly in crash tests at the time.

But Chery says it has reinvented itself and plans to introduce new models that meet the latest safety and emissions regulations, as part of its plans to expand sales globally.

Joshua Dowling

Joshua Dowling has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years, spending most of that time working for The Sydney Morning Herald (as motoring editor and one of the early members of the Drive team) and News Corp Australia. He joined CarAdvice / Drive in late 2018, and has been a World Car of the Year judge for 10 years.

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