The month of February produced a landmark shift in Australian automotive history when national sales of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) overtook those of passenger cars for the first time on a monthly basis according to the official VFACTS sales figures released by Australia’s peak industry body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, today.
SUVs totalled 35,497 sales during February to record a 39.9 per cent share of total industry sales. Passenger cars totalled 34,740 for a 39.0 per cent share. Light commercials were the third largest segment with an 18.5 per cent share.
The Chief Executive of the FCAI, Tony Weber, described February’s results as part of the evolution that has been occurring in the composition of the national vehicle market over many years.
“The steady, demonstrable shift in consumer preference which has been occurring in the past few years has culminated in this February outcome,” Mr Weber said.
“Of course, this one monthly outcome doesn’t signal a landslide but clearly Australian buyers are attracted by the features and capabilities of new generation SUVs, and how these types of vehicles suit their needs and lifestyles.”
Motor vehicle sales overall recorded a 7.7 per cent fall in volume during February compared with the same month in 2016.
Mr Weber said that the February 2017 outcome had to be put into context, given February 2016 produced such an unusually strong outcome.
“It’s important to look at sales results in the proper context because February 2016 was an unusually strong month. It included one extra selling day and saw a lot of activity in the market. This resulted in a 6.7 per cent surge over February 2015,” he said.
Passenger vehicles sales were the most affected by February’s decline, down 12.2 per cent. Sales of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) fell 3.7 per cent, while light commercials dropped 5.6 per cent.
In percentage terms, Western Australia showed the most marked fall. Its market dropped by 13.7 per cent, or 1,199 vehicle sales, followed by the Northern Territory (-10.7%), South Australia (-10.6%), New South Wales (-7.4%), Victoria (-7.0%) and Queensland (-6.6%). Tasmania (+1.1%) and the ACT (+0.3%) were the only two markets to show an increase.
Sales of sports cars and micro cars rose in February compared with the same month last year, but all other passenger car segments declined.
Two SUV segments rose in volume during February. These were upper large SUVs (up 19.6 per cent) and medium-sized SUVs (+1.1%). Sales of small SUVs fell by 11 per cent and large SUVs by 5.7 per cent.
The nation’s top-selling vehicle in February was the Toyota Corolla, which led the market with 3,392 sales. It was followed by the Toyota Hilux (3,386), the Mazda3 (3,143), Ford Ranger (2,931), and Hyundai i30 (2,003).
Toyota was the leading brand in February with a 18.3 per cent share of the total industry, followed by Mazda (11.1%), Hyundai (7.9%), Mitsubishi (6.5%), and Holden (6.4%).