Overall national sales of Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) in Australia continued to climb in October, despite the overall vehicle market declining over the month, according to the latest data released from statistical service VFACTS.

National vehicle sales for October reached 90,718, down 5.3% from October 2017. The overall market decline for the month was led by falling passenger car sales, at 27,802 or 23.6% lower in October 2018 compared to October 2017.

Overall national SUV sales were 39,849, and the SUV segment now represents 43.9% of the market in October 2018 and 38.5% of the market year to date.

Within the SUV segment the sales of medium SUVs holds the greatest volume with 18.1% of the total market in October 2018.  The sales of small SUVs increased by 14.1% in October 2018 compared to October 2017 with this category now representing 12.6% of the total market in October 2018.

Year to date sales across the market are currently at 971,723, which is a 1.3% dip from the same period in 2017 – which was a record year.

Tony Weber, chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, acknowledged the ongoing softening in sales as the market continues to adjust after record sales over recent years.

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"Total sales so far in 2018 are a modest 1.3% below the same number during the 2017 record year.  This demonstrates that the market is broadly holding firm, despite evolving consumer preferences demonstrated through the shift from passenger vehicles to SUVs," he said.

"Given the slowing housing market and the current drought, the overall result demonstrates the resilience of Australia's competitive automotive market."

The Toyota Hilux was the highest selling vehicle in October 2018 with sales of 4,401, followed by the Ford Ranger (3,511), the Toyota Corolla (2,663), the Mazda 3 (2,094) and the Hyundai i30 (2,049).

Toyota led the market in sales volume for October with 19.6% of the total market, followed by Mazda (9.0%), Hyundai (8.2%), Mitsubishi (6.9%) and Ford (5.9%).