February 5, 2018 / 1:11 AM / a year ago

Australia new vehicle sales make strong start to year-industry

SYDNEY, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Australian new vehicle sales hit another record for a January month as sports utilities flew off the lots, while strong demand for commercial vehicles spoke of solid business spending.

The Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries' VFACTS report on Monday showed 88,551 new vehicles were sold in January, up a healthy 4.3 percent on the same month of last year. January this year had one more selling day.

That followed record sales in December and hinted at a welcome pick-up in consumer spending.

For January alone, sales of SUVs were up 10.9 percent on a year before, while passenger vehicles dropped 8.7 percent.

Demand for commercial vehicles continued its strong run with the light sector up a hefty 20.3 percent on last year, while sales of heavy vehicles rose 5.5 percent.

Toyota Motor Corp retained first place on the sales ladder in January with an expanded share of 17.3 percent. Mazda Motor Corp snatched second spot with 11.4 percent, followed by Hyundai Motor at 8.0 percent.

The Holden unit of General Motors took 6.5 percent, while Ford trailed with 5.9 percent. (Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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