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Motorists shun hatchbacks for utes and SUVs - as coronavirus sparks the worst new car sales crisis

Australians are increasingly shunning hatchbacks and turning to utes and four-wheel drives with higher ground clearance during the coronavirus crisis.

Of the top ten bestsellers in May, only three were small cars, Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries data showed.

New car sales are the worst on record and Australia's vehicle fleet is getting older with an average age of 10 years. 

The Toyota Corolla, which just five years ago was Australia's most popular car, was last month outsold by the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger utes, along with the Toyota RAV4 SUV and the Toyota LandCruiser four-wheel drive.

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The Toyota Corolla (pictured), which just five years ago was Australia's most popular car, was last month outsold by the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger utes, along with the Toyota RAV4 SUV and the Toyota LandCruiser four-wheel drive. Its sales dived by 34.1 per cent in May, compared with the same month in 2019

In another bad month for cars, sales of this hatch and sedan model dived by 34.1 per cent in May, compared with the same month in 2019.

The Mazda3, Australia's bestseller in 2011 and 2012, saw its equivalent sales plunge by an even more dramatic 55.4 per cent, putting it at No. 9 on the monthly sales chart.

The Hyundai i30 hatch suffered an even steeper drop, with its sales down 58.9 per cent, to take out eighth place.

The Mazda3, Australia's bestseller in 2011 and 2012, saw its equivalent sales plunge by an even more dramatic 55.4 per cent, putting it at No. 9 on the monthly sales chart

Australian car sales have suffered the worst May plunge since records began in 1991. 

Australia's bestselling cars during COVID-19 crisis

1. Toyota HiLux: DOWN 16.1 per cent

2. Ford Ranger: DOWN 33 per cent

3. Toyota RAV4: DOWN 19.6 per cent

4. Toyota LandCruiser: DOWN 7.3 per cent

5. Toyota Corolla: DOWN 34.1 per cent

6. Mazda CX-5: DOWN 29.6 per cent

7. Toyota Prado: DOWN 23.5 per cent

8. Hyundai i30: DOWN 58.9 per cent

9. Mazda3: DOWN 55.4 per cent

10. Hyundai Tucson: DOWN 40.4 per cent

Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries VFacts sales data for May 2020 with comparison to monthly tally in May 2019 

The number of vehicles leaving showrooms has declined for 26 straight months, falling by an annual pace of 35.3 per cent in May to 59,894 units.

Tony Weber, the chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, said the coronavirus crisis was disastrous for car dealers. 

'While COVID-19 is primarily a health crisis, it has brought about an economic crisis as well,' he said.

'These are difficult times for the global and domestic economy, and this of course has repercussions for the local sales sector, including the automotive industry.'

With a recession likely in Australia in 2020, for the first time in 29 years, the nation's car fleet is continuing to age.

Cars now have an average age of 10.1 years, up from 9.9 years in 2019 and 9.8 years in 2015, Australian Bureau of Statistics motor vehicle census data released on Tuesday showed. 

Holden was Australia's second most commonly registered car make, with more than 1.5million of them still on the road, even though General Motors is next year killing off the nameplate - ending automotive heritage dating back to 1948.

An Australian-made car hasn't been the top seller since 2010 when the Holden Commodore last dominated the sales charts for 15 consecutive years.

Holden didn't feature in the top ten list in May, but in April the Holden Colorado ute was eighth on the sales chart. 

As of 2020, there were almost three million Toyotas on the road compared with 1.3million Mazdas, 1.078million Fords and 1.026million Hyundais.

Holden was Australia's second most common registered car make, even though General Motors is next year killing off the nameplate - ending automotive heritage dating back to 1948. Pictured is a VF Commodore built in 2015 next to a 1978 VB Commodore

As of 2020, there were still more than 1.5million registered Holdens on Australian roads  

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