NEW car sales continued their downward trend in February, with only 87,000 sales, a drop of 9.3per cent over February 2018.

Only Mitsubishi and Kia showed gains among the top 10 brands, which for the first time had a trio of utes leading the market.

The top three were Toyota Hi-Lux with 4,431 sales, Ford Ranger on 3,377 sales and  Mitsubishi Triton, fast closing in with 3,155 sales.

Indeed, the light commercial market was the only segment with a sales increase. It was up 6per cent while passenger cars took a 21per cent tumble and SUV sales dropped 6per cent.

“Given the current challenging economic conditions, the automotive industry is not surprised by the slower start to the year,” FCAI’s Tony Weber said.

Finishing in fourth spot was Mazda 3, with 2,655 sales with stablemate CX-5 next, then Mitsubishi’s evergreen ASX, Corolla, Hyundai i30, LandCruiser and Rav4.

Quite a few non-volume brands, however, bucked the trend, among them MG, Great Wall, Haval, LDV, Skoda, Ram and Volvo.

Hybrid sales were up from 566 last February, to 876, but buyers pulled the plug on electric cars, with just 11 sales – a 76per cent drop.

Among the small SUVs, ASX had also twice as many sales as its closest rival (CX-3), but CX-5 was king of the medium class, from Mitsubishi Outlander, Rav4 and Nissan X-Trail and in the big brute section it was a 1-2 for Toyota with Prado and Kluger.

There’s still some money around, though.

Nine people bought Bentley Bentaygas, eight went off in Lamborghini Uruses, Mercedes sold 45 GLS-Class SUVs and one person bought a Rolls Royce.