Tony O'Kane | Feb 4, 2009

New car sales for January have dropped 18.5 percent over the same period last year, according to the latest data released by VFACTS.

67,079 passenger cars, 4WDs and commercial vehicles were sold last month, whereas 82,270 vehicles were sold in January 2008. Toyota led the sales race with 13,427 cars sold, while Holden and Mazda followed with 8,762 and 6532 new car sales respectively.

The local economic downturn is being blamed as the primary reason for the drop in sales, however Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries Chief Executive Andrew McKellar says that last month's result is still a reasonably good one considering the state of the global economy.

"This is a not an unexpected result given the broadening impact of the global financial crisis now being felt across the Australian economy."

"Australian new vehicle sales have actually held up well by comparison with sales in many other countries," he said.

Sales figures for January 2008 were also the highest ever recorded in seasonally adjusted terms, making it all the more difficult for this year's result to improve on it.

McKellar was also confident that changes in Federal fiscal policy as well as new investment incentives would tempt more drivers into new car showrooms.

"This is an extremely competitive market with plenty of opportunities, and with interest rates now even lower people should not be deterred from considering buying a new vehicle," Mr McKellar said.

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