Australia’s motor industry has recorded its best-ever March sales result, with the market up 0.9 per cent on the same month last year.
The motor industry’s statistical service VFACTS revealed that 105,410 vehicles were sold in Australia last month, 898 more than in March 2016.
Five states and territories – the ACT, NSW, the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia – all experienced a drop in sales but the shortfall was more than compensated by just three buoyant markets in March: South Australia, which grew 4.9 per cent, Tasmania (+2.0%) and most significantly Victoria, which posted a 5.5 per cent boost in sales for the month.
Light commercial vehicles (LCVs) and Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) remain the strong growth segments for the industry and together now comprise 60.3 per cent of all vehicle sales.
Of significance, three utilities were in the top five sellers for March: the Toyota Hilux (ranked number 1), Ford Ranger (2) and the Mitsubishi Triton (5).
The SUV segment was dominant for the second month in succession, achieving a 39.4 per cent of the total market with sales up 7.9 per cent on last year’s record March. Passenger cars achieved a 37 per cent share (38,972 sales) in March, while LCVs accounted for a 20.9 per cent share (21,992 sales), up 11.3 per cent on March 2016.
Tony Weber, Chief Executive of Australia’s peak industry body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, said that the long-running market transition which reached its tipping point in February, when SUV sales overtook passenger cars on a monthly basis for the first time in the industry’s history, appears to be the new “norm”.
“Two months in succession of SUV sales leading the market is further confirmation of a trend we’ve been observing for some time,” Mr Weber said.
“For the first three months of 2017 the SUV segment is now the dominant sector, whereas this time last year passenger cars led the market by around 10,000 sales. Clearly, the shift in market dynamics is accelerating.
“Sales of medium-sized SUVs were particularly strong in March, up 18.3 per cent on the same month last year. That’s a very strong indicator of the vehicle size, versatility and value for money that appeals to a lot of Australian families.”
Private sales of all vehicle types remained steady year to date, with a slight decline of 0.8 per cent. Sales to business showed a moderate decline of 3.2 per cent.
Toyota was the market leader, with an 18.6 per cent share of the March market. It was followed by Mazda with a 9.9 per cent share, Hyundai (8.3%), Mitsubishi (7.2%) and Holden (6.8%).
The top-selling vehicle in Australia during March was the Toyota Hilux, with 4,245 sales. It was followed by the Ford Ranger (3,845), Toyota Corolla (3,574), Mazda3 (3,039) and the Mitsubishi Triton (2,670).