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Passenger car sales fell 10.3 per cent in April, the biggest drop of any month this year, despite the overall new vehicle market recording growth of 1.2 per cent over the same month in 2014.

In as clear a sign as you’ll get of buyers’ changing tastes, SUV registrations over the same period jumped 17 per cent, more than addressing the shortfall.

Industry sales figures released today show that registrations in every passenger vehicle segment went backwards over April last year, with the solitary exception of sports cars.

Passenger vehicles made up 42.9 per cent of total vehicle registrations in April, against a cumulative 45.6 per cent across the first four months of 2015. Of the 81,656 vehicles registered, 35,015 were passenger cars.

Passenger cars are those vehicles that are not SUVs or commercials.

The passenger market encompasses mainstream and premium versions of micro cars (down 27.5 per cent in April), light cars (down 4.3 per cent), small cars (down 13.8 per cent), medium cars (down 1.5 per cent), large cars (down 17.3 per cent), upper large cars (down 30.1 per cent) and people-movers (down 9.2 per cent).

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Only sports cars recorded growth, up 8.4 per cent.

Perhaps the most interesting decline is in the small car segment, which is defined at the lower end by the Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3, and at the higher end by the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

While it remained the most popular segment of any in April, accounting for 16,188 units or almost 20 per cent of the overall new vehicle market, it shed 2587 units against April 2014.

Given the small SUV segment gained 1956 units over the same monthly period, and the medium SUV market gained 993, it’s obvious where those buyers are going.

Indeed, SUVs in total accounted for 36.3 per cent of the April market, equating to 29,664 units — up from a cumulative average of 34.8 per cent year-to-date (YTD).

Every mainstream and premium SUV segment — small, medium, large and upper large — grew by double digits in April, by between 11.1 per cent and 31.2 per cent.




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