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Smallest Cars Biggest Winners in January sales

Sales of the smallest passenger cars boomed in January as the Australian motor vehicle market continued on its record-setting way.

According to figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), a boom in Light cars helped to push the total market to a new January record of 70,003 - up 0.4 per cent on the previous record for the month set in 2005.

Light car segment sales totalled 9114 - an increase of 35.3 per cent over the same month last year.

Toyota was the top-selling motor vehicle brand in January with 14,383 sales, ahead of Holden (11,503) and Ford (7435).

"Last year the significant trend was the growth in the Small car segment and now it appears the Light car segment is benefiting from the same downsizing sentiment amongst consumers," said the FCAI’s chief executive, Peter Sturrock.

There was a general move away from larger vehicles in January, with the Large car, Medium Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) and Large SUV segments all recording lower sales than a year ago.

The exceptions were the Luxury SUV segment, which grew by 22.4 per cent, and the Pick-up/Cab Chassis 4x4 segment which grew 12.83 per cent month-on-month.

Consumer concerns about petrol prices have seen a dramatic increase in the sales of diesel-engined vehicles amongst private passenger car and SUV buyers - up 190.5 per cent and 19.2 per cent respectively.

The Light Truck Market was buoyant in January, growing by 2.0 per cent over January 2005.

In addition to the increase in Pick-up/Cab-Chassis 4x4 segment, the Van segment grew by 10.8 per cent and Light Bus sales jumped by 51.5 per cent.

Mr Sturrock said the overall growth in January sales was pleasing, although he said the sales forecast for 2006 remains 980,000.

Last year the market set its fourth successive annual sales record - increasing by 3.5 per cent to 988,269.

"We’re off to a good start in 2006 after four years of strong and sustained sales growth," said Mr Sturrock.

"The rate of growth in January is a good guide to the realistic expectation of the industry in 2006."

For further information contact:
Sheena Ireland, Communications Manager
P: 02 6229 8221
M: 0458 038 555
E: sheena.ireland@fcai.com.au