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August Car Market Withstands Rate Rise

The automotive industry has withstood any immediate impact from the recent interest rate rise by posting record sales for the month of August.

Official industry figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries show that 88,206 cars, SUVs and trucks were sold last month - an increase of 6,545 or eight percent on the same month last year, and 2,029 more than the previous record for August set in 2005.

FCAI Chief Executive Andrew McKellar said that while the result was encouraging there was some evidence in the underlying figures that market growth had throttled back a little.

So far this year Australian motor vehicles sales have totalled 698,873 - up 56,490 or 8.8 per cent on the same period of 2006.

"Strong consumer confidence, fierce retail competition and new model activity have been powering the Australian car market at record levels throughout the year to date," said Mr McKellar.

"The million vehicle market is now a reality, and not withstanding a longer-term reaction to the recent rate rise or other factors, I am confident that the market will continue to comfortably exceed this benchmark through to the end of the year, "he said.

Most of the extra sales last month were generated by SUVs and light trucks.

SUV sales boomed in August, with the SUV Compact segment up 32.9 per cent on the same month last year and the SUV Medium segment up almost 2,000 vehicles or 41.7 per cent.

"The strength of the SUV market is the result of new model activity and the diminished influence of petrol prices on consumer preferences," said Andrew McKellar.

The booming popularity of 4x4 Pick-ups continued in August, with sales up 1322 or 23.2 per cent on the same month last year. Year to date the segment is now up 10,660 or 23.4 per cent.

The Passenger car market rose by 1.4 per cent in August, with an increase in the sales of Small cars offsetting a slight decline in Light car sales.

Large family car sales remained solid (up 1.3 per cent on last August) and year-to-date Large car sales are now up 5617 or 6.2 per cent on the same period of 2006.

Toyota was the best-selling brand in August with 23.7 per cent of the market, ahead of Holden with 13.8 per cent and Ford on 10.8 per cent.

Year to date Toyota now leads Holden by 55,873 sales.

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