Growth in sales of small sports utility vehicles (SUVs) is rapidly outpacing larger SUV models in 2012, according to official VFACTS data for July sales released by Australia's Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI). 

While sales of SUVs in all categories have grown 31.9% overall (42,802 to 177,100 units) compared with the same period in 2011, sales in the small SUV segment have grown 61.6% (13,642 units). 

Overall sales growth for SUVs is being driven by private and non-private customers, both of which are showing a trend toward diesel-powered models. There was 59.9% growth in private purchases, and 36.3% in non-private purchases of diesel SUVs compared with the same seven months in 2011. SUVs now make up 27.9% of new vehicle sales year to date, compared with 23.3% at this time in 2011. Passenger vehicles still represent 51.9% of new vehicle sales. 

Overall, 634,495 vehicles (cars, SUVs, light commercials and trucks) have been sold since the beginning of 2012. This is a 9.9% increase (57,268 vehicles) on sales for the first seven months of 2011. July sales increased in every state and territory compared with the previous July, although Tasmanian sales were down 6.2% year to date. 

On a month to month basis, 86,641 vehicles were sold in July 2012, an increase of 7.0% (or 5,650 vehicles) compared to July 2011. 

Compared with the first seven months of 2011, private purchases of vehicles have increased by 11.3% but government purchases have decreased 7.7%. 

Sales of locally manufactured vehicles are still strong, with nearly 80,000 sold for the year to date, up 4.1% from just over 76,000 this time last year. 

For the fourth month in a row, the Mazda 3 (3,355) was outsold by the Toyota HiLux pickup truck with 4,163 sales, followed by the Toyota Corolla (2,985), the Holden Commodore (2,399) and the Nissan Navara truck (2,164). 

Toyota was the best performing brand overall in June selling 17,780 vehicles, followed by General Motors' Holden (8,936) and Mazda (7,951).