Australia new vehicle sales flat in Feb, up sharply on year

SYDNEY, March 18 Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:40pm EDT

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SYDNEY, March 18 (Reuters) - Sales of new motor vehicles in Australia were flat in February, from January, but were still the best ever for that month and up strongly on February last year.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics out on Monday showed new vehicle sales were unchanged in February at a seasonally adjusted 95,708. That followed an upwardly revised 2.2 percent dip in January.

Sales were still up 9.4 percent on February last year.

Sales of sports utility vehicles slowed after a couple of very strong months, to rise by 0.3 percent in February. Yet they remained 19 percent higher than the same month last year. All the weakness was again concentrated in passenger vehicles where sales dropped 1.0 percent in February, while sales of other vehicles, including trucks, rose 1.7 percent.

Industry data out earlier this month showed were up 5.2 percent in February from a year earlier, with sales of commercial and sport utility vehicles staying brisk.

For February, Toyota retained first place on the sales ladder with a share of 17.8 percent. Mazda held second spot with 9.7 percent, while Nissan nabbed third with 9.1 percent.

It is very rare for Japanese carmakers to hold all top three places in a month.

The Holden unit of General Motors dropped back to fourth with 8.5 percent, followed by Hyundai at 8.3 percent. Ford made a poor showing with 7.3 percent of the market.

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