[SYDNEY] Sales of new vehicles in Australia enjoyed their strongest February on record as demand for sports utilities turned red-hot, a promising sign that lower fuel prices and falling interest rates were supporting consumer spending.
The Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries'VFACTS report showed sales of 90,424 in February, up 4.2 per cent on the same month last year and a 10.1 per cent increase on January.
Sales for the first two months of the year were running 2 per cent ahead of the same period in 2014.
Sports utility vehicles had a barnstorming month with sales up 23.8 per cent on February last year. Sales of small SUVs surged by 50 per cent, VFACTS said.
Sales of passenger vehicles fell 6.6 per cent on February last year, extending their long decline.
Sales of light commercial vehicles rose 2.7 per cent, while heavy vehicles dipped 4.3 per cent.
For February alone, Toyota Motor Corp retained first place on the sales ladder with a share of 18 per cent. Mazda Motor Corp held second spot with 10.0 per cent, followed by Hyundai Motor Co at 8.9 per cent.
The local Holden unit of General Motors Co took 8.6 per cent, while Mitsubishi Motors enjoyed another strong month with 6.9 per cent of all sales. Ford trailed with 6.6 per cent.