SUV demand surges as car sales reverse
SUV demand surges as car sales reverse

West Australians are giving up on the family car and loading the kids into SUVs.

Bureau of Statistics figures show overall sales of vehicles in WA continue to edge down from their peak during the mining boom.

WA sales fell 1.2 per cent last month, the slowest March for car sellers in three years.

WA vehicle sales peaked at 11,368 in November 2012.

Passenger cars accounted for more than 47 per cent of all sales in that month.

Of passenger and SUV sales combined, SUVs accounted for 35 per cent of vehicles sold in WA.

Last month, total sales had fallen to 9804 - a decline of almost 14 per cent.

Across that period, passenger car sales fell 19.3 per cent while "other vehicles" - including many destined for the mining sector - were down almost 23 per cent.

But sales of SUVs rose 4 per cent. One in three cars sold in WA is now an SUV and the sports utilities account for 44 per cent of all passenger and SUV vehicle sales combined.

Nationally, SUVs and four-wheel-drives now account for a record 37 per cent of all passenger car sales.

CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian said a combination of factors was leading to the switch to sports utilities and 4WDs.

He said car affordability was at its best in almost four decades, while car dealerships were also offering low finance rates to buy a new vehicle.

Attracted to the variety of SUVs on the market, people were simply ditching the family car and hopping a new ride.

"Strong competition between global car manufacturers, underpinned by improving production efficiency, should also ensure that car prices remain affordable for car buyers," Mr Sebastian said.

"However, it will take stronger conditions in the job market to breathe new life into car sales."

The West Australian

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