Australia new vehicle sales steady in March-VFACTS

Wed Apr 2, 2014 9:00pm EDT

SYDNEY, April 3 (Reuters) - Sales of new vehicles in
Australia held almost steady in March as strong demand for
sports utilities offset weakness in the passenger car sector, an
industry report showed on Thursday.
     The Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries'
VFACTS report showed sales of 97,267, down 0.1 percent on March
last year.
    Sales in original terms were up 12 percent in March compared
to February, which when adjusted for seasonal factors equated to
a dip of 0.2 percent.
    In the year to date, sales were running 2.4 percent behind
the same period in 2013, but still pointed to a solid annual
pace of 1.112 million vehicles.
    Demand for sports vehicles was the standout as sales jumped
5.6 percent compared to March last year. That was a marked
contrast to sales of passenger vehicles which fell 3.3 percent,
mostly due to falls in the small car segments.
    For March alone, Toyota Motor Corp retained first
place on the sales ladder with a slightly increased market share
of 18.8 percent.
    The local Holden unit of General Motors Co followed
with a share of 10.1 percent, while Mazda Motor Corp 
dropped back a place with 9.5 percent.
    Hyundai Motor Co again came fourth with 8.8
percent, while Ford Motor Co trailed badly with 7.2
percent. Both Ford and GM have announced plans to close their
Australia car making units in the face of fierce competition and
sustained losses.
    
    Details of the VFACTS report in original terms:
               Mar      Feb    m/m pct    Mar/13  y/y pct     
    Sales     97,267   86,818   +12.0     97,400   -0.1 

    Sales by Type:         Mar '14/Mar '13 Volumes     
                            Change    Pct Change       
    Passenger Vehicles      -1,585       -3.3      
    Sports Utility          +1,630       +5.6  
    Light Commercial          -164       -1.0 
    Heavy Commercial           -14       -0.5   

 (Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)