Here's why you're seeing more 4WDs on Australian roads

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Australian new car sales slipped fractionally in February, leaving the annual pace of growth at the slowest level seen since January last year.

According to the ABS, sales slipped by 1.2% to 97,921 after seasonal adjustments. It was the largest monthly percentage decline since October 2015, and left the annual increase in sales at just 2.3%.

Over the month sales fell in all categories aside from passenger vehicles with the largest drop coming from “other” vehicles at 1.1%. Elsewhere sales of sports utility vehicles, or 4WDs, dipped 0.6% whiles those for passenger vehicles rose 0.8%.

Despite the increase in February, passenger vehicles sales slipped 6.9% to 40,379, largely mitigating increases of 10.8% and 8.4% respectively for 4WD (36,867) and other vehicle sales (20,675).

The chart below reveals the rolling 12-month total for sales by individual category. On current trend, it appears to be only a matter of when, not if, four-wheel drives displace passenger vehicles as the most bought car category in Australia.

In what is a perfect example of the divergent economic performance across the nation, over the past year sales fell in all states and territories aside from New South Wales (8.5%) and Victoria (3.6%). Sales in Tasmania slid 9.6%, outpacing declines of 6.8%, 5.3%, 4.2%, 3.4% and 1.3% from Tasmania, the Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia, the ACT and Queensland.

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