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Car Market Turns Down as Petrol Prices Bite

Record petrol prices appear to be taking a toll on the new motor vehicle market according to official figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).

The Chamber’s VFACTS figures for April show that overall sales were down 10.2 per cent on the record for the month set a year ago.

Year to date the motor vehicle market is now running 10,724 vehicles or 3.4 per cent behind the same period of 2005.

"There are some one-off factors at play here, including Easter falling in April this year instead of March, which meant there were three fewer selling days," said the Chief Executive of the FCAI, Peter Sturrock.

"It should also be noted that the automotive market has actually set sales records in two out of four months this year - so the trend is far from consistent."

"Nevertheless, you could conclude that the widespread publicity generated by rising fuel prices may have discouraged some potential new vehicle buyers."

The April results clearly show a continuation of the recent trend towards smaller vehicles of all kinds.

Against the general downturn in the Passenger Vehicle Market, sales of the Light car segment were up 17.1 per cent.

Sales in the Sports Utility Market were down 13.8 per cent compared to last April, but sales of relatively economical People Movers were up 9.7 per cent.

The Light Truck sales fell by 11.2 per cent last month, although the Light Truck Market for the year to date remains slightly up (1.9 per cent) on the record set in 2005.

"The automotive industry is trying to continue the momentum generated by four successive years of record sales growth," said Peter Sturrock.

"It’s probably unreasonable to expect that the market can keep growing unabated and indeed the Chamber has forecast an annual total down slightly on last year."

The FCAI’s sales forecast for 2006 is 980,000, compared to a record of 988,269 set last year.

Toyota remained the best-selling brand in April with 14,712, followed by Holden (10,417) and Ford (8372). Mitsubishi was in seventh place with 3823.

Year to date Toyota now leads Holden 63,917 to 48,780.

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