Steane Klose | Mar 6, 2008

Official Australian sales figures released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) for February, indicate that increasing interest rates have failed to dampen Australia’s enthusiasm for new cars.

February was another record month for new car sales with 89,898 cars finding new homes, an increase of 7.4 percent or 6,158 units over the previous February. The record February sales build on record sales in January, getting 2008 off to a robust start.

"The February sales result is very pleasing for the automotive industry and shows that underlying demand from private buyers and business remains very robust, reflecting continued outstanding levels of vehicle affordability," said FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar.

Once again it was opposite ends of the automotive spectrum, small cars and large Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), which were the main drivers of market growth.

Light car sales rose by 2,236 or 22.5 per cent, the Small car segment rose by 1,645 or 8.6 per cent and the SUV market grew by 3,365 vehicles or 22.6 per cent. While sales of large cars continued their decline, down a massive 19.9 percent or 2,488 units. Sales of medium cars also suffered slightly, down 5.1 percent or 383 units.

"The volumes in the Large and Medium segments have been affected by the run-out of several key models. As new models become available in the coming months we would expect to see some turn-around," said Andrew McKellar.

McKellar is referring to Ford’s current BF Falcon range which is due to be replaced shortly by the new FG Falcon.

The FCAI noted that their was a significant increase in the volume of vehicles bought by businesses with ‘tool-of-trade’ vehicles like pick-up/cab-chassis 4x2 utilities rising by 1,184 units or 22 percent, while the Van segment rose by 602 units or 39.1 percent.

The battle for top seller was won by Holden's VE Commodore with 4313 sales, just in front of the Toyota Corolla on 4191. The Corolla is 500 sales ahead of the Commodore year-to-date.

Toyota was once again the top-selling brand in February with 23 percent of the market, ahead of Holden with 13.8 percent and Ford with 10.5 percent.

Year-to-date Toyota now leads Holden by 15,916 sales.

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