New vehicle sales in Australia declined over a challenging 2018, according to results released by the motor industry’s statistical service, VFACTS.

National vehicle sales for December fell by 14.9% from the corresponding month in 2017 to 87,528 vehicles, which took sales for the year to 1,153,111 vehicles.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) chief executive Tony Weber acknowledged the lower result in 2018, off 3% from the 2017 record sales year.

“New vehicle sales results in 2018 reflect a challenging climate across the Australian economy including a slowing housing market, tightening of money lending and the drought,” Weber said.

He highlighted 2018 as a year of continuing adjustment for motoring consumers with a further shift to SUV sales at the expense of passenger vehicles.

“Australian consumers continue to value the comfort, flexibility and utility of SUVs, which collectively accounted for 43% of the market in 2018. We predicted this trend to continue last year, and this has certainly been the case,” Weber said.

In addition to the rise of SUV sales, sales of light commercial vehicles continued to climb, with the Toyota HiLux again the number one selling vehicle in 2018 across all categories with 51,705 sales.

It was followed by the Ford Ranger, again number two in the market with 42,144 sales, the Toyota Corolla (35,320), Mazda 3 (31,065) and Hyundai i30 (28,188).

Across the brands, Toyota again led the market in 2018 with 18.8% market share, followed by Mazda (9.7%), Hyundai (8.2%), Mitsubishi (7.4%) and Ford (6%).