Holden has narrowly outsold long-time market leader Toyota as the Australian motor vehicle market continues its relentless sales growth.
Figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries show that Holden sold 15,193 vehicles in February - just 63 vehicles ahead of Toyota - while Ford was third with 11,182.
The intense battle for market leadership between Holden and Toyota helped push February sales to a new record of 81,009 - up, 5,132 vehicles or 6.8 per cent on February 2004.
Sales after just two months are already 9,900 vehicles - or 7 per cent - ahead of the same period last year.
An all-time record 955,215 cars were sold in 2004 and the FCAI has forecast total sales of 980,000 this year.
"The market has been given a boost by the January 1 import tariff reduction from 15 to 10 per cent which has seen car makers reduce the price or improve the specification of many new models," said the Chief Executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Peter Sturrock.
Several brands recorded record sales totals in February, including Mazda which was the fourth-best selling marque for the second month in a row with a total of 6,111, ahead of a resurgent Mitsubishi with 5,334.
The booming market has been driven by several factors, most notably the growth of Sports Utility Vehicle sales, which were up 20.3 per cent in February.
Other significant contributors to market growth last month were the Small car segment, up 2,094 (14.4 per cent); Light car segment, up 943 (14.1 per cent); the Medium car segment, up 684 (17.1 per cent); the People Mover segment, up 423 (47.1 per cent); the Prestige car segment, up 251 (8.2 per cent) and the Sports car segment, up 131 (20.1 per cent).
The Large car segment was down 1,508 (-9.8 per cent).
One notable trend is the fall in luxury car sales which year to date have declined 13.1 per cent, while the Luxury SUV sales have also fallen (by 15.0 per cent).
Mr Sturrock said the FCAI did not expect yesterday's decision by the Reserve Bank to raise interest rates to have a significant effect on the upward trend of the overall market.
"While the rate of growth might taper a little as the year goes on, we believe sales will continue to be buoyant given the intense price competition between brands and the exceptional value in real terms offered new cars," said Mr Sturrock.
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