Toyota recorded its strongest February sales in seven years with its upward momentum bucking the industry trend, according to the latest official figures.
The market leader’s growth came as its renowned Corolla and HiLux duo topped the industry as Australia’s best-selling vehicles in February.
Corolla and HiLux helped lift Toyota’s tally to 16,308 sales, which was almost 30 per cent higher than its January result and the company’s highest February total since 2010.
Toyota was the only brand among the top eight automotive companies to record an increase in sales compared with February last year.
Corolla led the field for individual models with almost 3,400 hatches and sedans delivered. HiLux was just six sales away after posting its best February on record.
It is the 17th time these two pacesetters have scored the “quinella” for Toyota as the best-selling vehicles on Australia’s monthly sales chart.
Toyota’s Camry, LandCruiser Prado, LandCruiser wagon, HiAce van and HiAce bus also led their segments in February.
The other significant development was the arrival of the eye-catching C-HR, Toyota’s first entry in the small SUV segment, with 320 deliveries.
Toyota Australia’s executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb said the launch month for C-HR was also the first time SUVs had outsold passenger cars in the Australian market – albeit by just 757 cars.
“This seismic shift in the Australian new-vehicle market was inevitable with SUV sales doubling over just the past seven years to a record of 440,000 vehicles in 2016,” Cramb said.
“Last year, passenger cars prevailed by just over 45,000 sales; in January, the margin was down to fewer than 800 and now the historic tipping point has arrived – a little earlier than most people expected,” he said.
“The buyer trend favouring the ride height, interior space, comfort and style of SUVs at the expense of traditional passenger cars appears unstoppable and could accelerate with the arrival of dynamically competent SUVs such as C-HR.”
Toyota is the leading brand in SUV sales and last year sold more than 60,000 SUVs for the first time. It remains the only brand to sell more than 50,000 SUVs in a year.
Mr Cramb said it was likely the sales rivalry between Corolla and HiLux – which resulted in a narrow win for HiLux last year – would continue throughout 2017.
“Record sales for HiLux, the arrival of the stunning C-HR and the ongoing popularity of Corolla augur well for Toyota and its customers for the rest of the year,” Cramb said.