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New car sales tumbled in February as Australians came to grips with lower property prices, the head of the motor industry group says.

The number of vehicles sold across the country last month was down 9.3 per cent compared to February 2018, according to data issued by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) on Tuesday.

A total of 87,102 new cars were sold during the month contrasted with 95,999 in the second month of 2018 – a decrease of about 370 vehicle sales per day.

‘Given the current challenging economic conditions, including a downturn in the housing market, the automotive industry is not surprised by the slower start to the year,’ FCAI CEO Tony Weber said.

The drop-off in sales was greatest in percentage terms in Victoria, which recorded an 11.7 per cent fall in sales volumes from 28,451 to 25,135 vehicles, and NSW, where sales fell 11 per cent from 31,252 to 27,807.

New car sales increased in Tasmania, up 1.9 per cent, and the Northern Territory, up 5.7 per cent, but fell everywhere else.

The drop in Australian new car sales in the latest data is an acceleration of the previous month’s results which showed a 7.4 per cent fall compared to January 2018.

The VFACTS monthly retail sales figures listed the Toyota Hi-Lux as the top selling model in February 2019 followed by the Ford Ranger and the Mitsubishi Triton.

The top three brands were Toyota, with 19.1 per cent of February new car sales, Mazda with 11.1 per cent and Mitsubishi with 9.0 per cent.