New car sales rose 4.3 percent in Australia last month on strong SUV demand image

Sales of new automobiles in Australia grew a 4.3 percent in January to 76,783 units, according to Australia’s Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

The SUV segment recorded the largest growth, with sales up by a solid 30 percent, as consumers feld confident enough to spend money on more expensive cars. January sales were however 6.9 percent lower than in December, largely because holidays mean January has less selling days.

While SUV sales boomed compared to a year earlier, demand for passenger cars slowed. Sales of heavy trucks also rose, indicating strong business investment. January’s market leader in Australia was Toyota, with 18.3 percent of the market, while Mazda took 11 percent of total sales. Hyundai was the third best selling brand, with a market share of 8.5 percent, while Ford fell back to fifth with an all-time low of 7.6 percent.

“This is an encouraging January sales result and provides a good start to 2012. It is mostly being driven by private and business buyers of SUVs and car rental companies updating their passenger car fleets. The number of private buyers for passenger cars declined by 8.4 per cent compared with this time last year,” FCAI Chief Executive Ian Chalmers said.