A record March result of 106,988 sales delivered a strong 4.4 per cent first quarter growth for the Australian new vehicle market according to the motor industry’s official statistical service VFACTS.
Australia’s new vehicle market grew 1.5 per cent in March, compared with the same month last year. It marked the ninth month of record industry sales in the past 11 months and brought the year-to-date total to 291,538 sales.
The March result was boosted by notable sales gains in small and medium SUVs, light and micro passenger cars.
Small SUVs climbed 32.8 per cent compared with March 2017, while medium SUVs increased sales by 10.1 per cent. The micro car market jumped 47.2 per cent, while light cars gained a healthy 6.9 per cent.
SUVs provided the market’s firm support during March with private sales up 7.6 per cent and business sales up 0.4 per cent in a segment which increased 9.7 per cent overall compared with the same month last year. SUV sales grew progressively during the first quarter to now represent 42.3 per cent of the total market.
The light commercial market dipped slightly overall (down 0.4 per cent) in March, although sales of 4WD utes and cab chassis models were still up 3.2 per cent compared with the same month last year. The LC segment grew over the March quarter however, and now represents 19.7 per cent of the total market.
Five of the states and territories recorded sales gains during March compared with the same month last year, the Northern Territory led the way with 12.8 per cent growth.
The Chief Executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Tony Weber, said that the healthy first quarter growth demonstrated that consumers were attracted by the diversity of product and the value on offer.
“To have the market at 4.4 per cent ahead of last year’s record total is a clear vote of consumer confidence in the economy’s stability and low interest rates, both key factors which encourage private buyers and businesses into new vehicles,” Weber said.
“The continued growth of SUVs in our market comes in the same week as the US Environmental Protection Agency indicated it would adopt less stringent and more realistic emissions targets into the future.”
Toyota was the market leader for March with a 17.6 per cent share, followed by Mazda with 9.1 per cent, Mitsubishi with 8.2 per cent, Hyundai (7.9 per cent) and Ford (6.3 per cent).
The Toyota Hilux, which led the market last year, maintained its top-seller position in March with 4,348 sales, followed by the Ford Ranger (4,064 sales), Toyota Corolla (3,218), Mitsubishi Triton (3,109) and the Mazda3 (2,780).