Australians bought a record number of cars, trucks and buses in the first quarter of 2007, according to official retail sales figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).
Figures compiled by auto industry statistician VFACTS show that 255,068 vehicles were sold in the first three months of the year - up 20,463 or 8.7 per cent on the same period of 2006 and surpassing the previous record for the quarter, set two years ago, of 237,000.
March sales were also an all-time record for the month of 94,392 - up 8.3 per cent on the same month last year.
"By any measure it's a remarkably strong start to the year and one that has probably taken even the optimists in our industry slightly by surprise," said FCAI Chief Executive Peter Sturrock.
"Consumers appear to have shaken off any lingering concerns about fuel prices and interest rates and have responded enthusiastically to the intensely competitive prices being offered in dealerships."
The FCAI is forecasting a sales total this year of 970,000.
Mr Sturrock said sales growth was being experienced in almost every segment of the market, large as well as small.
Sales of family cars in the Large passenger vehicle segment grew an encouraging 4.7 per cent last month compared to March 2006.
The segment was boosted by strong sales of Holden Commodore, which was Australia's best-selling model with sales of 5752, and Toyota Aurion with 2037 sales.
"The strong domestic sales of Australian-made Holdens and Toyotas is a welcome addition to the export growth those car makers are achieving," said Peter Sturrock.
The fastest-growing of all sales segments was Small passenger cars, which added 8532 sales or 16.7 per cent in the first quarter.
Light car sales grew by 3334 of 11.9 per cent, SUV Compact by 2851 or 22.2 per cent and SUV Medium by 1617 or 4.7 per cent.
Sales in the Pick-up/Cab-chassis 4x4 segment grew by 4614 or 30.0 per cent in the first quarter.
"Australians still have a desire and practical need for bigger vehicles and the rebound in SUV sales and 4x4 pick-up sales reflects that," said Peter Sturrock.
Toyota was Australia's most popular brand in March with 21,390 sales ahead of Holden (13,454) and Ford (10,074).
Year-to-date Toyota has 22.0 per cent of the market, from Holden (14.3 per cent) and Ford (10.7 per cent).
Brands experiencing strong growth in the first quarter include Mazda with a 7.9 per cent share (up from 7.1), Nissan with 6.6 (up from 5.1), Mitsubishi with 6.2 (up from 5.5) and Honda also on 6.2 (up from 5.5).
For more information contact:
Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries