New vehicle sales in Australia fell 12.3% year on year last month.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) said 77,324 cars, trucks and buses were sold in August - down 10,882 compared to the same month last year.

Year to date new vehicle sales were up 0.7% on the same time last year, with 703,995 vehicles sold.

"The August downturn reflects the broader slowdown in domestic demand which is largely attributable to previous interest rate rises," FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar said.

"Yesterday's official interest rate cut is a welcome move and will help renew future confidence in the marketplace but unfortunately the figures suggest it may have come too late and further reductions may be necessary," he said.

August data showed that sales of vehicles in core 'luxury' segments fell 19.3% compared to the same month last year.

"There is clear evidence that the slowdown has been compounded by the proposed hike in the luxury car tax and wider economic uncertainties," McKellar said.

"This unnecessary and unfair tax grab is continuing to have a damaging impact on the Australian car industry," he added.

"It is economically irresponsible to persist with this measure in the current circumstances."

Sales in all segments of the passenger vehicle market were down. Sales of sports utility vehicles (SUVs) were down except for the SUV large segment, which increased 23.3% in August.

There were two strong performing segments in the commercial vehicle market - light buses were up 55.9% and vans up 17.2% during August.

Toyota retained the top sales position in August with a 22.9% market share, followed by Holden with 13.8% and Ford with 11.1%.

Year-to-date, Toyota led the sales race with 165,641 vehicles sold, followed by Holden with 88,969 and Ford with 72,536 vehicles.

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