March 5, 2018 / 3:31 AM / 9 months ago

Australia new vehicle sales extend strong run in February: industry

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian new vehicle sales enjoyed another strong month in February as sports utilities flew off the lots and hot demand in the commercial sector augured well for business investment.

The Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries’ VFACTS report on Monday showed 95,999 new vehicles were sold in February, up a brisk 7.6 percent on the same month of last year. Both months had the same number of selling days.

That followed record sales in both January and December, hinting at a welcome pick-up in consumer spending.

“To have the market already running 6.1 percent ahead of last year’s record total indicates that consumer confidence is still strong and all those elements which underpin our economy remain in position,” said FCAI chief executive Tony Weber.

For February alone, sales of SUVs were up 12.1 percent from the year before, while passenger vehicles dipped 0.7 percent.

Demand for commercial vehicles continued its strong run with the light sector up 13.3 percent on last year, while sales of heavy vehicles jumped 31.9 percent.

Toyota Motor Corp retained first place on the sales ladder in February with an expanded share of 19 percent. Mazda Motor Corp snatched second spot with 10.3 percent, followed by Hyundai Motor at 8.3 percent.

Ford took 6.3 percent, while the Holden unit of General Motors held an unusually small share at 4.9 percent.

Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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