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Suv'S and Light Trucks Drive Strong First Quarter

Motor vehicle sales in Australia ended the first quarter 3.3 per cent up on the same period in the all-time record year of 2007. FCAI Chief Executive, Andrew McKellar (pictured) said the market was yet to see any definitive effect on sales fro mthe recent interest rate rises.

Australian motor vehicle sales are continuing to run at record levels despite rising interest rates.

Official VFACTS figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) reveal that the automotive industry ended the first quarter with total sales of 263,453 - up 8,385 or 3.3 per cent on the same period in the all-time record year of 2007.

March sales were down 3,107 or 3.3 per cent, although this was most likely due to the timing of the Easter holiday, which reduced the total number of selling days during the month by three.

"We are yet to see any definitive effect on sales from the recent interest rate rises, although there was some evidence in March of fewer private buyers in the market," said FCAI Chief Executive, Andrew McKellar.

Mr McKellar said consumers displayed a strong shift away from traditional passenger cars towards Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) during the first quarter of the year.

While the Passenger Motor Vehicle market was down 4,127 sales of 2.6 per cent year-to-date, SUV sales were up by 7,544 vehicles or 16.1 per cent.

"Consumers are being lured by considerable new model activity in the SUV market, greater availability of diesel engines and a general preference for the versatility and flexibility that these vehicles offer," said Mr McKellar.

The other major driver of the market so far this year has been Light Trucks, sales of which have grown by 3,952 or 9.5 per cent year-to-date.

The Light Truck market was very strong in 2007 and continues to be buoyant in 2008 thanks to resilient demand from the business sector," said Andrew McKellar.

Toyota was the best selling brand at the end of the first quarter with 22.9 per cent of the market, ahead of Holden with a 12.9 per cent share and Ford with 10.0 per cent.

Australia's best selling car in March was Holden Commodore with 3988 sales, narrowly ahead of Toyota Corolla (3968).

Year-to-date Corolla is the most popular model with 12,002 sales, ahead of Commodore with 11,551 and Mazda’s 3 with 8779.

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