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Hot wheels for consumers or thieves?

  • Are you purchasing a used car?
  • Would you like it to be a top selling car?
  • Would you like it to have a low theft risk?

Published: August 2019

Introduction

The NMVTRC’s CARS team has recently conducted an analysis of 2018 theft rates of passenger/light commercial vehicles (PLCs) that had the top sales figures in selected years.

The analysis highlights the theft rates of the most popular vehicles on the market to assist motorists who are looking to purchase a used car.

Methodology

The national sales figures were sourced from the Federal Chambers of Automotive Industries (FCAI) new vehicle sales data and based on 2008, 2013 and 2015 calendar years to demonstrate different vehicle age groups.

Theft rates for each vehicle segment were calculated by using all of the models in each segment and was not limited to the top ten vehicles.

This analysis was based on national sales figures and theft rates therefore we acknowledge that there will be differences across the jurisdictions.

Key Findings

  • Overall, the best vehicle picks based on consumer popularity and low theft risk seemed to be from the small passenger segment.
  • Based on the three calendar years, the Mazda 3 appeared to be a good choice as it has been one of the top 5 selling cars in 2008, 2013 and 2015 and also had one of the lowest theft rates among the top 10 selling vehicles in 2018.
  • While there are many factors to consider when purchasing a vehicle including safety, price, fuel efficiency, functionality and aesthetics, this analysis highlights the importance of including a vehicle’s theft risk and security features in the decision-making process.
  • The CARS theft risk rating is a useful tool when purchasing a used vehicle as it is based on theft rates once vehicles 'hit the road' and take into account the number in the Australian registered vehicle fleet. It also provides separate theft rates for each State or Territory where there are sufficient registrations.
  • Even vehicles with the highest level of security are still at risk of being stolen if motorists are not vigilant about securing their vehicle’s keys. To learn more about how to secure your keys and your vehicle head to: car security begins at home

  • In 2008, the Holden Commodore was the top selling PLC however in 2018 they had the highest theft rating among the top 10 selling vehicles and a much higher theft rate than all the 2008 PLCs (Table 1).
  • On the other hand, the Toyota Corolla was still very popular, ranked second in terms of sales, but had the lowest theft rate among the PLCs with top 10 sales (Table 1).
Table 1 – Australia - Top selling cars in 2008 by their theft rates in 2018
Make model 2008 sales Total theft rate Sales ranking Total theft rate ranking
Holden Commodore 51,093 49.2 1 10
Toyota Corolla 47,901 12.5 2 1
Toyota Hilux 42,956 26.3 3 8
Mazda 3 33,755 14.8 4 3
Ford Falcon 31,936 32.4 5 9
Toyota Yaris 26,097 13.0 6 2
Toyota Camry 23,067 21.3 7 6
Mitsubishi Lancer 19,688 18.7 8 5
Toyota Aurion 19,562 21.5 9 7
Hyundai Getz 17,256 16.4 10 4
ALL 2008 PLCs 22.4
Note: Theft rates were based on 10,000 registrations
  • A visual representation, shows the Mazda 3 is another popular choice as it was ranked fourth for sales and only third based on theft rates. With a theft rate of 14.8 per 10,000 registrations, this was still well below the theft rate for all 2008 PLCs of 22.4 per 10,000 registrations (Figure 1).

 

Figure 1 - Sales and theft rates of top selling 2008 model vehicles

 

  • In Table 2, the vehicles have been categorised into their market segments, making it easier to compare the theft rates of other vehicles in the same segment.
  • The Holden Commodore, whilst being the most popular, in terms of sales, has the highest theft rate in the large passenger segment (49.2 thefts per 10,000 registrations) and therefore the Toyota Aurion might be a better choice as it has a theft rate less than half of the Holden Commodore (21.5 thefts per 10,000 registrations) and is still in the top 10 selling vehicles.

 

Table 2 – Australia - Top selling cars in 2008 by their theft rates in 2018
Segment / Make model Sales STT rate Segment STT rate PMT rate Segment PMT rate Total theft rate Segment total theft rate
Small passenger
Toyota Corolla 47,901 11.3 13.0 1.1 2.8 12.5 15.8
Toyota Yaris 26,097 9.2 13.0 3.8 2.8 13.0 15.8
Mazda 3 33,755 13.3 13.0 1.5 2.8 14.8 15.8
Hyundai Getz 17,256 15.1 13.0 1.3 2.8 16.4 15.8
Mitsubishi Lancer 19,688 16.4 13.0 2.3 2.8 18.7 15.8
Medium passenger
Toyota Camry 23,067 19.8 16.9 1.5 2.8 21.3 19.7
Large passenger
Toyota Aurion 19,562 17.7 29.6 3.8 8.5 21.5 38.1
Ford Falcon 31,936 26.7 29.6 5.7 8.5 32.4 38.1
Holden Commodore 51,093 36.4 29.6 12.8 8.5 49.2 38.1
Light commercial utility
Toyota Hilux 42,956 19.4 21.9 6.9 7.6 26.3 29.5
Note: Theft rates were based on 10,000 registrations, STT = Short term theft, PMT = Profit Motivated theft
  • A further look at the data revealed that some vehicles had a higher short term theft risk than other makes but a lower profit motivated theft risk or vice versa (Figure 2 & 3).
  • The 2008 Toyota Yaris had the lowest short term theft rate among the top selling vehicles in 2018 however was ranked seventh for its profit motivated theft rate (Figure 2 & 3).

 

Figure 2 - Sales and short term theft rates of top selling 2008 model vehicles
Figure 3 - Sales and profit motivated theft rates of top selling 2008 model vehicles
Similar analysis was done for the top 10 PLC sales in 2013 and it was found that:
  • The 2013 Toyota Corolla was the top selling car with 43,498 sales in 2013 with a 2018 theft rate of 13.0 per 10,000 registrations which was lower than the 15.7 thefts per 10,000 registrations for all 2013 PLCs (Table 3, Figure 4).
Table 3 – Australia - Top selling cars in 2013 by their theft rates in 2018
Make model 2013 sales Total theft rate Sales ranking Total theft rate ranking
Toyota Corolla 43,498 13.0 1 3
Mazda 3 42,082 11.3 2 2
Toyota Hilux 39,931 26.5 3 8
Hyundai i30 30,582 9.0 4 1
Holden Commodore 27,766 29.8 5 10
Toyota Camry 24,860 17.3 6 6
Mitsubishi Triton 24,512 14.1 7 4
Holden Cruze 24,421 19.2 8 7
Nissan Navara 24,108 28.2 9 9
Ford Ranger 21,752 17.0 10 5
ALL 2013 PLCs 15.7
Note: Theft rates were based on 10,000 registrations
Figure 4 - Sales and theft rates of top selling 2013 model vehicles
  • The Hyundai i30 had the lowest theft rate of the top 10 selling 2013 models with 9.0 thefts per 10,000 registrations. This was half the theft rate of its small passenger vehicle competitor, the Holden Cruze with a theft rate of 19.0 thefts per 10,000 registrations. The Hyundai also had the lowest short term theft risk (Table 4, Figure 5).
  • The 2013 Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3’s were also good small passenger vehicle choices as they have a low risk of theft, including short term and profit motivated theft risk (Table 4, Figure 4, 5 & 6).
  • Among the light commercial utility segment, the Mitsubishi Triton appears to be a good pick with a theft risk (14.1 thefts per 10,000 registrations) lower than the utility segment theft rate (20.5 thefts per 10,000 registrations)(Table 4).
Table 4 – Australia - Top selling cars in 2013 by their theft rates in 2018
Segment / Make model Sales STT rate Segment STT rate PMT rate Segment PMT rate Total theft rate Segment total theft rate
Small passenger
Hyundai i30 30,582 7.7 13.0 1.3 1.7 9.0 14.7
Mazda 3 42,082 10.3 13.0 1.0 1.7 11.3 14.7
Toyota Corolla 43,498 11.8 13.0 1.2 1.7 19.2 14.7
Holden Cruze 24,421 16.4 13.0 2.7 1.7 19.2 14.7
Medium passenger
Toyota Camry 24,860 15.5 13.3 1.8 2.5 17.3 15.8
Large passenger
Holden Commodore 27,766 24.9 21.8 4.9 4.7 29.8 26.5
Light commercial utility
Mitsubishi Triton 24,512 12.4 15.9 1.7 4.6 14.1 20.5
Ford Ranger 21,752 13.7 15.9 3.3 4.6 17.0 20.5
Toyota Hilux 39,931 20.0 15.9 6.4 4.6 26.5 20.5
Nissan Navara 24,108 19.6 15.9 8.6 4.6 28.2 20.5
Note: Theft rates were based on 10,000 registrations, STT = Short term theft, PMT = Profit Motivated theft
Figure 5 - Sales and short term theft rates of top selling 2013 model vehicles
Figure 6 - Sales and profit motivated theft rates of top selling 2013 model vehicles
  • In 2015, the top selling cars were similar to those in 2013, namely Toyota Corolla (42,053 sales) followed by the Mazda 3 (38,644 sales) however the theft ranking of the Toyota Corolla dropped compared to 2008 and 2013. In contrast, the Mazda 3’s theft rate ranking in 2015 increased to top position (Table 5).
Table 5 – Australia - Top selling cars in 2015 by their theft rates in 2018
Make model Sales Total theft rate Sales ranking Total theft rate ranking
Toyota Corolla 42,073 14.5 1 5
Mazda 3 38,644 9.1 2 1
Toyota Hilux 35,161 25.7 3 10
Hyundai i30 32,306 10.2 4 2
Ford Ranger 29,185 16.1 5 7
Holden Commodore 27,770 20.5 6 8
Toyota Camry 27,654 22.0 7 9
Mitsubishi Triton 25,338 15.0 8 6
Mazda CX-5 25,136 11.0 9 3
Volkswagen Golf 22,092 12.1 10 4
ALL 2015 PLCs 14.4
Note: Theft rates were based on 10,000 registrations
  • Figure 7 shows that the Mazda 3 was a very popular choice for consumers but, pleasingly, was not as attractive to thieves. With 9.1 thefts per 10,000 registrations, it is less than the theft rate for other similar small passenger vehicles (13.4) and for all PLCs in 2015 (14.4) (Table 5 & 6). The Mazda 3 also had short term and profit motivated theft rates that were lower than the small passenger segment theft rate. Therefore, the Mazda 3 has a low theft risk for a top selling vehicle.
  • The analysis also identified the Toyota Hilux as the top selling light commercial utility vehicle for 2015. However, the make/model has a theft rate much higher than the total PLC and market segment theft rate, making it a very popular choice among thieves. It is recommended that motorists consider the high theft risk of the Hilux as a factor when purchasing a light commercial ute (Table 6, Figure 7).
Figure 7 - Sales and theft rates of top selling 2015 model vehicles
  • If you are thinking about purchasing an SUV, the Mazda CX-5 was in the top 10 for sales and had the 3rd lowest theft rate (11.0 thefts per 10,000 registrations). The Mazda CX-5 theft rates were lower than the segment theft rates for both short term and profit motivated thefts (Table 6, Figure 8 &9).
Table 6 – Australia - Top selling cars in 2015 by their theft rates in 2018
Segment / Make model Sales STT rate Segment STT rate PMT rate Segment PMT rate Total theft rate Segment total theft rate
Small passenger
Mazda 3 38,644 8.3 11.7 0.8 1.7 9.1 13.4
Hyundai i30 32,306 8.5 11.7 1.7 1.7 10.2 13.4
Volkswagen Golf 22,092 9.9 11.7 2.2 1.7 12.1 13.4
Toyota Corolla 42,073 12.0 11.7 2.5 1.7 14.4 13.4
Medium passenger
Toyota Camry 27,654 19.6 15.0 2.4 1.9 22.0 16.9
Large passenger
Holden Commodore 27,770 17.6 17.5 2.9 3.8 20.5 21.4
SUV
Mazda CX-5 25,136 9.8 10.5 1.2 1.6 11.0 12.1
Light commercial utility
Mitsubishi Triton 25,338 13.5 13.9 1.5 4.0 15.0 17.9
Ford Ranger 29,185 13.7 13.9 2.3 4.0 16.1 17.9
Toyota Hilux 35,161 16.8 13.9 8.9 4.0 25.7 17.9
Note: Theft rates were based on 10,000 registrations, STT = Short term theft, PMT = Profit Motivated theft
Figure 8 - Sales and short term theft rates of top selling 2015 model vehicles
Figure 9 - Sales and profit motivated theft rates of top selling 2015 model vehicles

The National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (NMVTRC) acknowledges all police services, registration authorities, participating insurers, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Glass’s Information Services and Insurance Australia Group for the supply of the data on which this report is complied. Theft incident data may be subject to later revision by the data providers. This work is copyright. Material may be reproduced for personal, non-commercial use or for use within your organisation with attribution to the NMVTRC (www.carsafe.com.au). © 2019 NMVTRC. All rights reserved.

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