SYDNEY, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Sales of new motor vehicles in Australia eased back in January, from December, but sales were still the best for any January on record and up strongly on the same month last year.
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics out on Monday showed new vehicle sales dipped 2.4 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted 95,694. That followed an upwardly revised 2.7 percent increase in December and left sales 10.8 percent higher than in January last year.
Sports utility vehicles remained in hot demand as sales rose 3.8 percent in December, from January, to be 18 percent higher for the year. All the weakness was concentrated in passenger vehicles where sales dropped 8.2 percent in January.
Sales of other vehicles, including trucks, climbed 3.5 percent.
Industry data out earlier this month showed sales were up 11.3 percent in January from a year earlier, with brisk sales of commercial vehicles pointing to strength in business investment.
For January, Toyota retained first place on the sales ladder, though its share slipped back to 15.7 percent. Mazda held second spot with 10.4 percent, just pipping the Holden unit of General Motors with 10.3 percent.