SYDNEY, April 5 (Reuters) - Australian new vehicle sales enjoyed another strong month in March as sports utilities flew off the lots, setting the seal on a robust first quarter for the industry.
The Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries’ VFACTS report on Thursday showed 106,988 new vehicles were sold in March, up 1.5 percent on the same month of last year. This March had one less selling day than in 2017.
The increase followed record sales in both February and January and took sales for the first quarter 4.4 percent higher than the same quarter last year, a promising omen for consumer spending.
“To have the market at 4.4 percent ahead of last year’s record total is a clear vote of consumer confidence in the economy’s stability and low interest rates, both key factors which encourage private buyers and businesses into new vehicles,” said FCAI chief executive Tony Weber.
For March alone, sales of SUVs were up 9.7 percent from the year before, while passenger vehicles slipped 7.3 percent.
Sales in the light commercial sector eased 0.4 percent after a run of very strong months, while sales of heavy vehicles jumped 16.3 percent.
Toyota Motor Corp retained first place on the sales ladder in March, though with a reduced share of 17.6 percent. Mazda Motor Corp held second spot with 9.1 percent, followed by Mitsubishi took 8.2 percent.
Hyundai Motor had 7.9 percent and Ford 6.3 percent. The Holden unit of General Motors took another unusually small share of 4.8 percent. (Reporting by Wayne Cole Editing by Eric Meijer )