Strong growth in vehicle sales in Australia continued in October, distinguished yet again by consumers’ continued preference for sports utility vehicles, according to official VFACTS data released from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI). 

While sales of SUVs in all categories have grown 28.6% overall (up 56,545 vehicles to 254,132) year on year, sales of the small SUV segment have grown 56.0% (an increase of 18,005 units). 

Sales growth for SUVs is being driven by private and non-private customers, both of which are showing a trend toward diesel models. There was 56.8% growth in private purchases, and 30.6% in non-private purchases of diesel SUVs compared with the same 10 months in 2011. SUVs now make up 27.7% of new vehicle sales year to date, compared with 23.6% at this time in 2011. Passenger vehicles still represent the largest part of new vehicle sales at 51.7%. 

Overall, 918,258 vehicles (cars, SUVs, light commercials and trucks) have been sold since the beginning of 2012. This is a 9.7% increase (80,934 vehicles) on sales for the first 10 months of 2011. October sales increased in every state and territory compared with the previous October, although Tasmanian sales are down 3.3% on a year to date basis. 

On a month to month basis, 95,584 vehicles were sold in October 2012, an increase of 12.2% (or 10,388 vehicles) compared to October 2011. 

Compared with the first 10 months of 2011, private purchases of vehicles have increased by 11.7% (46,565 units) but government purchases decreased by 10.9% (5,311). 

Sales of locally manufactured vehicles continue to decline with just over 115,000 sold for the year to date, down 4.7% from nearly 119,000 this time last year. 

Toyota‘s HiLux continued to lead in October with 3,403 sales, followed by the Mazda3 (3,342), the Toyota Corolla (2,977), the Hyundai i30 (2,898) and the Toyota Camry (2,723). 

Toyota was the best performing brand overall in October selling 18,584 vehicles, followed by Holden with 10,239 and then Mazda with 7,738.

October’s results came after data for September showed significant growth in the uptake of hybrid vehicles, albeit off a low base, and another strong month in overall vehicle sales.

Of the alternative fuel vehicles, passenger vehicles proved to be the most popular in September, growing by 191.4% (3,371 units) compared with the same month in 2011 (1,697). Overall 9,461 hybrids were sold in the first nine months of 2012. 

Sales growth in September was in the SUV (20.7%), light commercial (10.7%) and heavy commercial segments (12.4%). Sales of passenger vehicle grew slightly (3.2%) but this was still the largest vehicle segment with 52% of sales overall. 

On a month to month basis, 94,627 vehicles were sold in September 2012, an increase of 9.0% (or 7,808 vehicles) on 2011. 

Government purchases continued to fall: declining by 17.4% compared to the same month last year, and by 10.6% for the same nine month period in 2011. Sales of passenger vehicles to governments declined 31.2% compared to September 2011. 

Sales of locally manufactured vehicles weakened with 102,331 sold for the year to date, down 2.8% from just over 105,000 this time last year. 

The Mazda3 regained the lead in September with 4,276 sales, relegating the Toyota HiLux to second position with (3,479). A new entrant to the top five, Hyundai’s i30 (3,144), took third spot, with Toyota Corolla (3,133) fourth and Holden Commodore (2,532) fifth. 

Toyota remained the best performing brand overall in September selling 17,300 vehicles, followed by Mazda with 10,093 and then Holden with 8,955.