The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) said Australian new vehicle sales in 2020 reached 916,968, down 13.7% year on year.

"The decline of 13.7% was not unexpected and is attributed to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," FCAI said in a statement.

"However, the new vehicle market in Australia is now showing positive signs of growth."

December 2020 sales rose 13.5% to 95,652 units and followed a similar upturn in November when sales rose 122.4% to 95,205.

FCAI chief executive, Tony Weber, said signs of the recovery of the new vehicle market were welcomed by automotive brands.

"COVID-19 has brought a health crisis and a corresponding economic crisis to the world during 2020," Weber said. 

"And along with the rest of Australia, automotive brands and their dealer networks have found the last 12 months an extremely challenging period.

"The automotive industry in Australia accounts for more than 60,000 employees, with over 4,000 dealerships across the country. The contribution made by these businesses is critically important to the economic wellbeing of communities across Australia.

"It is therefore with great relief that the industry, along with the general economy, is finally noting some positive signs within the market."

Australian buyers' love of SUVs and utes [pickup trucks] continued last year, with yet another increase in share for these two popular segments.

SUVs claimed 49.6% of sales during 2020, an increase from 45.5%in 2019.  A total of 454,701 SUVs were sold during the year, down 5.9% on 2019. 

Light commercial vehicles continued to enjoy strong popularity in 2020, with 22.4% share.  A total of 205,597 vehicles sold, down 8.9%.

Passenger vehicles totalled 222,103  for 24.2% of the market in 2020.  The tally was down 29.7%.

Toyota was top selling brand with 204,801 vehicles for 22.3% market share. Mazda made 85,640 sales for 9.3% share, Hyundai 64,807 for 7.1%, Ford 59,601 for 6.5% and Mitsubishi 58,335 for 6.4%.

Of the top 10 vehicles for the year, seven were either SUVs or LCVs. The top seller was the Toyota HiLux (45,176), Ford Ranger (40,973), RAV4 (38,537), Corolla (25,882), Landcruiser (25,142), Mazda CX-5 (21,979), Hyundai i30 (20,734), Mitsubishi Triton (18,136), Prado (18,034) and Kia Cerato (17,559).