CANBERRA: Sales of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) have overtaken those of traditional passenger cars in Australia for the first time, in a development that the country’s official automotive body has described as a “demonstrable shift in consumer preference”.

According to the latest figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), Australians bought 465,646 SUVs in 2017 to take 39.2% share of the total market.

That compared with 450,012 passenger cars, representing a 37.8% share in 2017, and Mazda’s CX-5 emerged as Australia’s top-selling SUV with 25,831 sales.

“The steady, demonstrable shift in consumer preference, which has been occurring in the past few years, has culminated in this outcome,” said FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber, in comments reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Of course, this one monthly outcome doesn’t signal a landslide but clearly Australian buyers are attracted by the features and capabilities of new-generation SUVs, and how these types of vehicles suit their needs and lifestyles,” he added.

New vehicle sales also hit a record 1,189,116 units in 2017 as well as a record 102,820 new vehicles in December alone, representing 4.1% year-on-year growth from December 2016.

According to, FCAI’s Tony Weber attributed the record to the stability of the Australian economy, low interest rates and fierce competition among the more than 50 brands vying for the attention of consumers.

“Clearly Australian consumers recognise the value for money that is on offer in the new vehicle market and responded accordingly,” he said.

Elsewhere, the FCAI data revealed that Toyota remained Australia’s top-selling brand for the 15th consecutive year, having sold 216,566 vehicles, or almost double Mazda, the second most popular auto brand with 116,349 sales.

And rounding out Australia’s top auto brands in 2017 were Hyundai (97,013), Holden (90,306), Mitsubishi (80,654), Ford (78,161), Volkswagen (58,004), Nissan (56,594), Kia (54,737) and Subaru (52,511).

Sourced from FCAI, Sydney Morning Herald,; additional content by WARC staff