SYDNEY, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Australian new vehicle sales edged higher in January, maintaining the momentum of last year's record pace as buyers continued to flock to sport utility vehicles.
The Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries' VFACTS report out on Friday showed 84,910 new vehicles were sold in January, up 0.6 percent on the same month last year. Some 1.178 million vehicles were sold in 2016, an all-time high.
Private buyers returned to the market in force, taking 7.7 percent more SUVs than in January last year, as businesses and government sales pulled back.
"Coming off the back of another record sales year, we're pleased to see a modest gain, with private buyers active in the market," said FCAI chief executive, Tony Weber.
Total sales of SUVs were up 3.2 percent on last year, while passenger cars dipped 0.8 percent continuing a long-running switch between the two.
Sales of light commercial vehicles dipped 3.9 percent after a run of strong months, while sales in the heavy vehicle market jumped 20.9 percent.
Toyota Motor Corp retained first place on the sales ladder but with a reduced share of 14.8 percent. In contrast, Mazda Motor Corp had a barnstorming month to take 11.9 percent of the market.
The Holden unit of General Motors took third spot with 8.5 percent, topping Hyundai Motor at 7.9 percent. Ford followed with 7.0 percent of the market. (Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Eric Meijer)