New vehicle sales in Australia saw a strong result in February, with SUVs and luxury vehicles once again showing improvement while passenger cars continue to dip away.
While January sales kicked off fairly flat, the shortest month on the calendar proved strong across the board, with monthly sales increasing by 4.2 per cent, while the year-to-date figure is up 2.0 per cent compared to the same time in 2014.
A total 90,424 vehicles were sold in February 2015, up from 86,818 in the same month last year, while there have been 172,540 new registrations so far in 2015, up from 169,103 last year.
In what has become something of a trend in the Australian market, regular passenger car sales slipped for another month across most segments - though the light and medium car segments were up on the back of some strong performances.
The Mazda 2 and Toyota Yaris led the way in their sector, while the Mercedes-Benz C-Class (842 sales) took out the overall second place in the medium segment behind the Aussie-assembled Toyota Camry which saw 1767 sales and remains stable so far this year (0.1 per cent up on 2014).
The two best-selling cars of 2014 - the Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3, respectively - both had firm sales months. The Corolla topped the overall sales charts with 3939 units (up 18.2 per cent compared to last year) while the Mazda 3 dipped 12.1 per cent compared to its February 2014 figure, with 3598 units sold.
The worst performing segment of the market was micro cars, dipping 44.9 per cent. A lot of that comes down to the slump in sales of the Mitsubishi Mirage - it managed just 308 units sold in February, down 73.1 per cent compared to last year and 66.2 per cent so far YTD.
The best performing passenger vehicle segment in terms of outright percentage growth was small SUVs, sales of which are up 34.8 per cent so far in 2015. Medium SUVs are also up 11.8 per cent, while large SUVs have risen 8.6 per cent so far this year.
The star vehicles include, somewhat surprisingly, the ageing Mitsubishi ASX, which saw 1451 units sold in February. The new Honda HR-V had a strong month, with 825 sales, and Hyundai's soon-to-be-replaced ix35 also proved popular, with 1856 units sold.
Mid-size SUVs were bolstered by strong sales of the Nissan X-Trail (1742 units), while the Mazda CX-5 continued its dominance of the segment (2085 units). The Toyota RAV4 continues to slide down the charts, with 1453 sales.
Audi again topped the luxury SUV segment for mid-sized models, with the Q5 up 52.8 per cent YTD. Its closest rival, the BMW X3, is down 4.8 per cent YTD, while the Range Rover Evoque is also down this year (-15.6 per cent).
Even bigger SUVs proved strong for some brands, with the Toyota Kluger (1099 sales in Feb) running a close second to the Jeep Grand Cherokee (1134 units). The Toyota Prado also scored well (1040 units), while the new Subaru Outback had a thumper of a month with 890 units sold.
The premium large SUV segment saw the BMW X5 take the honours (523 sales) ahead of the Land Rover Discovery (281 units) and updated Volkswagen Touareg (261 sales). Levels of Audi Q7 stock are presumably running out ahead of the all-new model, as sales of the current version are dipping away.
Utes continue to play a big part in the market, with three big names reappearing in the top 10 best-selling models for February: the Toyota HiLux topped the segment, while the due-for-replacement Mitsubishi Triton ran second on the back of strong retail incentives, and the Ford Ranger continued its rise in the segment to claim third spot.
In terms of the best performing brands, Toyota remained the biggest seller for the month (16,243 sales, up 0.2 per cent) ahead of Mazda (9057, down 2.8 per cent), Hyundai (8003, down 0.3 per cent) and Holden (7809, down 7.7 per cent).
Year-to-date improvers outside of the top-selling brands include Suzuki (3099 sales, up 30.1 per cent), Renault (1295 sales, up 30 per cent), and Skoda (678 sales, up 52 per cent).
Top 10 best-selling brands - February 2015:
1. Toyota - 16,243
2. Mazda - 9057
3. Hyundai - 8003
4. Holden - 7809
5. Mitsubishi - 6242
6. Nissan - 5984
7. Ford - 5022
8. Volkswagen - 4889
9. Subaru - 3223
10. Honda - 2901
Top 10 best-selling cars - February 2015:
1. Toyota Corolla - 3939
2. Mazda 3 - 3598
3. Toyota HiLux - 2861
4. Holden Commodore - 2517
5. Hyundai i30 - 2126
6. Mazda CX-5 - 2085
7. Mitsubishi Triton - 1988
8. Ford Ranger - 1953
9. Hyundai ix35 - 1856
10. Toyota Camry - 1767