Australia Reports Record January Sales image

Although January sales in Australia dropped compared with December, the figure was still a record for any January.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics new vehicles sales dropped 2.4% last month to 95,694 vehicles, after an increase of 2.7% in December. Still sales were 11.3% higher compared with January 2012. SUV sales remained strong, up 3.8% in December and 18% for the year, while the weakest segment was the passenger-vehicle which saw sales fall 8.2% last month. In 2012 sales in Australia reached a new record of 1.11 million vehicles, up 10.3% compared with 2011.

Analysts have observed a stark contrast between the strength of auto sales and the retail spending, maybe because consumers were attracted by the low interest rates on vehicle loans. Light commercial vehicles increased for the second consecutive month, this time with 43.9%, while heavy truck sales increased 10.3%. But Australians’ favorites remain the SUVs, buying 4,459 of them, up 20.1%.

Toyota was the automaker to hold the first place in sales with 15.7%, followed by Mazda with 10.4% and GM with 10.3%. In December, Toyota has opened a new engine plant in the country, located in Altona, west of Melbourne. The plant will build 108,000 I4 2.5 liter engines annually for the Camry and its hybrid model.