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National sales of Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) continued to power ahead last month, despite a small decline in the overall market according to the latest data released by the motor industry’s statistical service VFACTS.

National vehicle sales for August reached 95,221, down 1.5 per cent over the record August total posted in 2017. However, it was the industry’s second-best August total ever, boosted by notable gains in three of the four SUV categories.

Although August passenger car sales fell by 13.4 per cent to 30,940 compared with the same month last year, SUV sales climbed 8.3 per cent to 41,271 buoyed by a 12.5 per cent gain in small SUVs, a 4.4 per cent rise in medium SUVs, and an 11.7 per cent lift in the sale of large SUVs.

Tony Weber, the Chief Executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, said the August result was heartening, with national vehicle sales to business last month lifting 2.8 per cent over last year’s best-ever August outcome.

“Given last month’s Federal political distractions, movements in residential property prices and economic difficulties such as the drought in places like western NSW and Queensland, the August result shows there is clearly retained confidence in the business sector,” Mr Weber said.

“It’s important to remember that the 2017 total was the third record year in a row for the industry and year to date, we are sitting just 0.3 per cent below that record pace again.

Among the states and territories, August sales gains were posted in South Australia (+1.5%), Tasmania (+12.2%) and Victoria (+0.5%) compared with the same month last year.

Declines were recorded in the ACT (-5.1%), New South Wales (-4.1%), Queensland (-0.3%), Western Australia (-3.9%) and the NT (-9.7%).

SUV sales climbed by an aggregate of 8.3 per cent across all buyer categories compared with August last year. SUV sales to private buyers were up 2.2 per cent, sales to business rose 13.8 per cent, government purchases increased 25.2 per cent, and sales to rental fleets lifted 22.1 per cent.

Compared with August last year, hybrid passenger vehicles were in strong demand by both private and non-private buyers. Hybrid sales last month to private buyers rose 79.6 per cent, and non-private sales by 35.3 per cent.

Across the industry during August, 1,283 hybrid vehicles and 133 electric vehicles were sold.

“By any measure, that indicates there’s resilience and continued demand in the market,” Mr Weber said.

“It also means we are still within striking distance of another record year.”