Motor vehicle sales across Australia got off to a solid start in January, with the month’s sales nudging ahead of the same period last year and a rise in activity among private purchasers.

Total sales for January, including passenger cars, SUVs, light and heavy commercial vehicles totalled 84,910 for the month, 0.6 percent up on the same month in 2016.

Within the segments, light commercials fell 3.9 per cent, passenger car sales declined slightly (down 0.8 per cent), while SUVs continued their consistent growth pattern with a gain of 3.2 per cent.

The Chief Executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Tony Weber, said the steady industry sales result was very encouraging for the year ahead.

“Coming off the back of another record sales year, we’re pleased to see a modest gain, with private buyers active in the market and taking advantage of the offers out there from the brands,” Mr Weber said.
“It’s a very good indicator for the year to come. We are confident that given unchanged economic conditions, the market will remain buoyant.”

Sales gains were recorded in five of the states and territories. The states to record falls were Queensland, where sales dipped by 8.6 per cent, Western Australia (down 10.5 per cent) and South Australia (down 1.4 per cent). In contrast, Victoria had a remarkably strong start to the year with a 9.4 per cent volume gain over January 2016, followed by the ACT (+5.0 per cent), Northern Territory (+4.2 per cent), Tasmania (+3.0 per cent) and New South Wales (+2.4 per cent).

The SUV segment grew again in January and accounted for 40.2 per cent of the total market, compared with passenger cars at 41.1. Within the SUV segment, medium-sized models are the most popular recording 13,956 sales for the month, a gain of 8.6 per cent on January 2016. Sales in this medium SUV segment marginally exceeded that of all light commercials sold nationally (13,942) in January.

Private purchasers, both in passenger cars and SUVs, provided a significant proportion of the market activity in January. Private sales of SUVs were up by 7.7 per cent over January last year, while private passenger car sales rose 2.1 per cent. Business sales in passenger cars fell 9.3 per cent, while government sales declined 13.4 per cent.

One of the interesting shifts during January was within the private SUV segment, in which sales of diesels declined 6.9 per cent whilst petrol engine models rose 14 per cent over January 2016.

The nation’s top five best-selling vehicles in January were the Mazda3 (3,473 sales), Toyota Corolla (2,943), Toyota Hilux (2,702), Ford Ranger (2,622) and Hyundai i30 (2,018).

Toyota led the market in January with a 14.8 per cent share, followed by Mazda (11.9 per cent), Holden (8.5), Hyundai (7.9) and Ford (7.0).

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