The surging new car market has maintained its momentum into the new year with record sales in January.
According to figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, 69565 new cars, trucks and buses were sold last month - a 7.4 per cent increase on the record set in January last year.
The boom January result follows record sales of motor vehicles throughout 2004.
Sales reached 955,229 by the end of the year - an increase of five per cent on 2003 and the third straight annual record.
Any concern that the car industry might have a quiet start to the year has been laid to rest by the January sales total, said the Chief Executive of the FCAI, Peter Sturrock.
Clearly the January tariff cut from 15 to ten per cent on imported passenger cars has reduced prices and stimulated sales across many brands, thus giving January a flying start, said Mr Sturrock.
Sales have started the year as the Chamber predicted and we are confident that given the strong economic indicators the market will continue to trend upwards, he said.
The FCAI is forecasting vehicle sales will top 980,000 by the year's end.
In January, the passenger car market rose 5.8 percent month-on-month, demand for light trucks was up 6.1 percent and the sports utility vehicle (SUV) market continued last year's sharp upward trend by rising 12.5 percent.
2004 Sales leader Toyota was the best-selling brand in January with 13,535 sales, ahead of Holden with 12,212 and Ford with 9,122.
The big mover was Mazda which moved from sixth to fourth place for the first time with sales of 5,726 - an increase of 45.7 per cent over January last year.
Mazda eclipsed Nissan who, after finishing 2004 in fourth place, saw its January sales fall 4.9 per cent to 4,331 to finish in fifth.
Mitsubishi held sixth sport with 4,196 - and increase of 10.5 per cent.
Analysis of the January results shows substantial increases in the sales volumes of Small cars (up 14.6 per cent), Medium cars (22.3 per cent) and Prestige cars (23.8 per cent).
Small to medium sized passenger cars are selling very well, boosted by the availability of several attractive new products and perhaps by the increase in petrol prices, said Mr Sturrock.
The Medium SUV segment, meanwhile, continues to grow rapidly, with sales up 1,450 vehicles or 42.6 per cent in January.
Family car buyers continue to be attracted in ever larger numbers to the new generation of cross-over four-wheel drive wagons, said Mr Sturrock.
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