Australia's motor industry recorded its best-ever March sales with volume up 0.9% on the same month last year.
The motor industry's statistical service VFACTS revealed that 105,410 vehicles were sold in Australia last month, 898 more than in March 2016.
Light commercial vehicles (LCVs) and Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) remain the strong growth segments for the industry and together now comprise 60.3% of all vehicle sales.
Of significance, three utilities were in the top five sellers for March: the Toyota Hilux (number 1), Ford Ranger (2) and the Mitsubishi Triton (5).
The SUV segment was dominant for the second month in succession, achieving a 39.4% of the total market with sales up 7.9% on last year's record March. Passenger cars achieved a 37% share (38,972 sales) in March, while LCVs accounted for a 20.9% share (21,992 sales), up 11.3% on March 2016.
Tony Weber, chief executive of Australian industry body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, said that the long-running market transition which reached its tipping point in February, when SUV sales overtook passenger cars on a monthly basis for the first time in the industry's history, appears to be the new "norm".
"Two months in succession of SUV sales leading the market is further confirmation of a trend we've been observing for some time," Weber said.
"For the first three months of 2017 the SUV segment is now the dominant sector, whereas this time last year passenger cars led the market by around 10,000 sales. Clearly, the shift in market dynamics is accelerating.
"Sales of medium-sized SUVs were particularly strong in March, up 18.3% on the same month last year. That's a very strong indicator of the vehicle size, versatility and value for money that appeals to a lot of Australian families."
Private sales of all vehicle types remained steady year to date, with a slight decline of 0.8%. Sales to business showed a moderate decline of 3.2%.
Toyota was the market leader, with an 18.6% share of the March market. It was followed by Mazda with a 9.9% share, Hyundai (8.3%), Mitsubishi (7.2%) and Holden (6.8%).
The top-selling vehicle in Australia during March was the Toyota Hilux, with 4,245 sales. It was followed by the Ford Ranger (3,845), Toyota Corolla (3,574), Mazda3 (3,039) and the Mitsubishi Triton (2,670).
According to just-auto's research database QUBE, in 2016, the Australian new vehicle market reached 1.178m units, up 2% on the industry's previous record year of 2015. The 2016 record year also marked a continued shift in buyer preference and market dynamics with a light commercial vehicle, the Toyota Hilux, topping the national vehicle sales charts over a 12-month period for the first time in Australian automotive history. SUV sales accounted for 37.4% of the total market, up from 35.4% in 2015.