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SUVs could overtake car sales, January figures suggest

The gap between passenger cars and SUV sales is the closest it has ever been.

Australians are on track to buy more SUVs than passenger cars for the first time in our motoring history.

Official new-car sales figures for January show the gap between passenger cars and SUVs is the closest it has ever been.

Passenger car sales were down by 11.5 per cent while demand for SUVs surged by 19.5 per cent.

If the trend continues, SUVs could overtake passenger cars by the end of this year.

Just 2141 sales separated the two vehicle types last month (35,214 versus 33,073); this time last year the gap between the two biggest categories was six times greater.

New-car buyers kept their foot on the accelerator in January, buying 84,373 vehicles of all shapes and sizes.

Although the tally was up 2.7 per cent on the same month last year, it was only the second-best January on record (the highest being January 2013).

The Mazda3 was the top-selling car in January but this is no guarantee it will reclaim the title this year.

The Mazda3 led the market last January but the Toyota Corolla went on to become the top-seller for the third year in a row in 2015.

After 11 straight years in decline and the lowest sales in 49 years (since 1966) it appears Ford has started to turn the corner.

Ford posted its third month in a row of sales growth. The Ranger ute was the first Ford to finish in the top three in 10 years (since the Falcon was third outright in 2006).

But Ford’s arch rival Holden dropped dramatically in January (down by 18.8 per cent, the biggest decline among the Top 10 brands) after posting a sales surge for the previous four months in a row.

There were four utes in the Top 10, and they were also the top-selling models for Ford, Holden and Nissan. It was the first time the Colorado ute has ever led Holden’s sales tally.

But Hyundai once again pushed Holden out of third place outright, after doing so for seven out of 12 months last year.

Three luxury brands finished just outside the Top 10. Mercedes-Benz led the German marques (3099 sales, up 19.5 per cent), ahead of Audi (2142, up 11.3 per cent) and BMW (2075, up 19.8 per cent).

Audi has only overtaken BMW on seven individual months in more than 50 years in Australia, including four times in 2015, and once in 2014 and 2013.

Top 10 cars in January 2016
Mazda3: 3722, down 4.6 per cent
Toyota Corolla: 2758, down 20.6 per cent
Ford Ranger: 2418, up 35.5 per cent
Toyota HiLux: 2341, up 0.4 per cent
Hyundai Tucson: 2065, up 26.2 per cent
Hyundai i30: 1852, down 11.5 per cent
Mazda CX-5: 1750, up 3.0 per cent
Holden Colorado: 1691, up 9.5 per cent
Nissan Navara: 1670, up 60.5 per cent
Volkswagen Golf: 1606, up 4.4 per cent

Top 10 brands in January 2016
Toyota: 12,453, down 8.8 per cent
Mazda: 10,016, up 11.2 per cent
Hyundai: 7001, up 1.4 per cent
Holden: 6824, down 18.8 per cent
Nissan: 5563, up 22.6 per cent
Ford: 5504, up 2.7 per cent
Mitsubishi: 5007, up 22.7 per cent
Volkswagen: 4341, down 1.3 per cent
Subaru: 3405, up 9.7 per cent
Kia: 3116, up 29 per cent
Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.