4WDs just outsold passenger vehicles in Australia for the first time

LUKE FRAZZA / AFP / Getty Images

Four-wheel drives outsold passenger vehicles for the first time on record in Australia last month.

According to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), 35,497 four-wheel drives were sold in February, overtaking passenger vehicle sales for top spot with 34,740.

This chart from Commsec shows the historic trend across sales in both categories.

Source: Commsec

In absolute terms, sales volumes fell by 7.7% compared to a year earlier, an outcome that had more to do with 2016’s leap year than anything more sinister.

Passenger vehicles sales slumped by 12.2% over the same period, three-times faster than sales of four-wheel drives, which declined by 3.7%.

“It’s important to look at sales results in the proper context because February 2016 was an unusually strong month,” said Tony Weber, CEO of the FCAI.

“It included one extra selling day and saw a lot of activity in the market. This resulted in a 6.7% surge over February 2015.”

By location, and fitting with varying economic conditions across the country, the FCAI said the largest year-on-year percentage declines were recorded in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia — those regions most exposed to the mining sector — at 13.7%, 10.7% and 10.6% respectively.

Elsewhere, sales in New South Wales (-7.4%), Victoria (-7.0%) and Queensland (-6.6%) all declined from a year earlier, while those in Tasmania (+1.1%) and the ACT (+0.3%) grew modestly.

By brand, Toyota was the top-selling automaker last month with a 18.3% market share, well ahead of Mazda (11.1%), Hyundai (7.9%), Mitsubishi (6.5%) and Holden (6.4%).

The Toyota Corolla retained top spot as the most popular model in February with 3,392 sales.

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