SYDNEY, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Australian new vehicle sales hit a record for both December and all of 2017 as demand for sports utilities showed no sign of cooling, while strong sales of commercial vehicles pointed to solid business spending.
The Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries’ VFACTS report on Thursday showed 102,820 new vehicles were sold in December, up a healthy 4.1 percent on the same month of 2016. December this year had one more selling day.
That total was a record for a December month and hinted at a welcome pick-up in consumer spending.
Sales for the whole year ran 0.9 percent ahead of 2016, to reach another all-time high at 1.19 million.
It was also the first year in which sales of sports utility vehicles (SUVs) outpaced those of passenger cars.
“Australians bought 465,646 SUVs during 2017 for a 39.2 percent share of the total market,” said FCAI chief executive Tony Weber. That was up from 37.8 percent in 2016.
For December alone, sales of SUVs were up 15.7 percent on a year before, while passenger vehicles dropped 13.3 percent.
Demand for commercial vehicles continued its strong run with the light sector up a hefty 20.6 percent on December 2016, while sales of heavy vehicles rose 13.7 percent.
Toyota Motor Corp retained first place on the sales ladder in December with a reduced share of 16.6 percent. The Holden unit of General Motors had one of its best months of the year to take second spot with 11.8 percent.
Mazda Motor Corp followed with 8.9 percent, just ahead of Mitsubishi at 8.8 percent. Hyundai Motor claimed 6.0 percent and Ford 5.5 percent.
Toyota topped the table for all of 2017, followed by Mazda and Hyundai. (Reporting by Wayne Cole; editing by Richard Pullin)