Steane Klose | Mar 4, 2009

Official VFACTS data released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) shows that 70,241 passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles were sold in February 2009, a drop of 19,657 vehicles compared to the same month in 2008.

January 2009 saw the market down 18.5 percent while February has seen a 21.9 percent drop in new vehicle sales, when compared to the same period last year.

"This result is consistent with the trend of recent months and reflects the impact of broader economic conditions on the new vehicle market," FCAI Chief Executive Andrew McKellar said.

But the news is perhaps not as bad as it might seem. February 2008 was a record month, in a record year for new car sales in Australia, with 89,898 sales, itself an increase of 7.4 percent or 6,158 units over February 2007. If we are to compare apples to apples, then perhaps we should compare February 2009 to February 2007, not the extraordinary record sales year that was 2008?

With that in mind, the February 2009 sales of 70,241 vehicles is down 13,529 units on the February 2007 figure of 83,770. Take out the boom year and sales have retracted 16.2 percent in February.

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The FCAI predicted at the start of this year that new car sales in 2009 would reach 880,000 units (down from the 1,000,000+ result in 2008) and that forecast remains on track.

As sales weaken, the car industry is urging people who may be considering the purchase of a new car to strike while the iron is hot.

There are currently significant opportunities existing in the marketplace for a value buy, along with recently announced measures to stimulate the economy.

"The Federal Government has taken action to provide businesses with a considerable tax break when they invest in assets, including new vehicles," Mr McKellar said.

Many businesses will be able to claim a deduction of up to 30 percent of the cost of an eligible new vehicle purchased before 30 June 2009, thanks to the Federal Government's strengthened investment allowance.

"The tax break provides a significant boost to business and will help encourage investment and broader economic activity," he said.

Toyota was Australia's best-selling brand in February with 14,274 vehicles (20.3 percent market share) followed by Holden with 9,029 (12.9 percent of the market) and Ford with 7,396 vehicle sales (10.5 percent market share).

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