Growing demand for sports utility vehicles pushed new car sales to record levels in December, official data shows.
Total sales of new motor vehicles rose 4.5 per cent in December to a seasonally adjusted 103,743 – a record for the month – marking the monthly biggest rise in more than five years, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows.
In the year to December, total sales of new motor vehicles grew 6.7 per cent, higher than the previous year’s 2.1 per cent gain.
Sales of SUVs topped standard passenger car sales in the month, up 7.2 per cent to 42,240, compared to a 0.1 per cent decline in passenger vehicles to 36,339.
Sales of other vehicles, including utilities, vans, rigid trucks and buses also rose 7.2 per cent.
Over the year, SUVs rose 19.3 per cent and other vehicles grew 19.8 per cent, while passenger car sales fell 11 per cent.
The results mirror data released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) last week, which found SUV sales overtook other car sales for the first time in Australia in 2017.
FCAI data shows that Australians had bought a total of 1,189,116 vehicles over the past 12 months, a rise of 0.9 per cent on 2016.
Across Australia, 465,646 SUVs were sold in 2017 representing 39.2 per cent of the total market, compared with sales of passenger vehicles which fell to a 24-and-a-half year low of 450,012 in the year to December, representing 37.8 per cent market share.
Victoria reported the largest jump in car sales, up 11 per cent in December, and NSW, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory also grew, while West Australian and the Australian Capital Territory both fell.
The ABS says it will no longer be covering sales of new motor vehicles but data on car sales is available from the FCAI.