Sales of new motor vehicles in March 2016 reached 104,512 units and year to date sales have passed the quarter million mark in 2016 with sales of 285,328. March 2016 sales were down slightly on March 2015 figures (0.5%) and year to date sales are up 2.8% on the same period in 2015.T

The chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Tony Weber, noted the slight decline in sales was almost all attributed to a decline in demand for passenger motor vehicles.

"Passenger motor vehicle sales in March 2016 are down by 9.4% compared to March 2015, while sales of SUVs and light commercials were up 8.3% and 7.1% respectively," he said. "This is in line with the trend over the recent period with significantly increased popularity of the SUV vehicle range. The features of these vehicles are certainly attracting the mainstream Australian buyer."

Overall sales of SUVs are up 13.8% year to date with sales of 108,369 vehicles, representing 38% of total sales. Light commercial vehicles represent 18.1% of total year to date sales and passenger vehicles 41.5%.

Toyota maintained market leadership with 17.1% of total sales in March 2016, followed by Mazda with 9.8%, Hyundai with 9.3%, Holden with 8% and Mitsubishi with 6.2%.

The top selling vehicle for March 2016 was the Hyundai i30 with 4,198 sales, followed by the Toyota Hilux (3,897), the Toyota Corolla (3,612) the Mazda 3 (3,145) and the Ford Ranger (2,960).