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Car sales lift

Even though the September market showed mixed results across all segments, luxury off-roaders and sportscars were the exception, rocketing up the sales charts.

VFACTS industry figures show a 31 per cent lift in luxury off-roader sales and 17 per cent rise in sportscar sales last month. The luxury off-roader numbers were buoyed by strong sales for the BMW X5, and several newcomers, including the Volvo XC60, Lexus LX, RX and Audi Q5.

With the weather warming up, convertibles helped feed the lift in sportscar numbers. Perennial favourites like the Mini Cooper cabrio, Saab 9-3 cabrio and Mazda MX5 helped bolster sportscar sales for the month. The Audi A5, BMW Z4, Mercedes-Benz SLK and Volkswagen Eos also fueled buyer interest.

The SUV segment overall was up almost 2 per cent compared to September last year. Other segments are also on the rise, thanks to the Federal Government's small business tax stimulus package. Compact off-roaders and light commercial van sales are up 5 per cent while 4x4 utes, light cars and medium car sales are also up.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive, Andrew McKellar, says the robust September result is proof of further signs of a consolidation in the new vehicle market. "This was a good month with a stronger than expected result," he says.

Overall 78,131 cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles were sold last month. This is down 3.5 per cent - or 2807 vehicles - compared to September last year. Despite a lift in optimism, McKellar says private buyers are still reluctant to return to the market. "Some areas of buyer confidence remain fragile and an interest rate rise is premature," he says. "The economic stimulus has resulted in positive business sales but private buyers need the confidence to return to showrooms in larger numbers."

Year-to-date 681,974 new vehicles have been sold, down 13.1 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Toyota remains in the top sales position for September with 16,007 vehicle sales, ahead of Holden with 9744 and Ford with 8427. Toyota's senior executive director sales and marketing, David Buttner, says the company expects to pass 50,000 sales in the last quarter for the first time this year. "Toyota is holding a substantial order book into October, and it is gearing up for an end-of-year rush from the business sector," Buttner says. Buttner says the company has fixed stock shortages of the top-selling HiLux.

TOP 10  BRANDS    Sept           YTD 2009 (+/- on 2008)
Toyota                   16,007             142,898       -22.3%
Holden                      9744               85,667       -14.0%
Ford                          8427               70,289       -13.7%
Mazda                       7205               57,695         -7.2%
Hyundai                    5484               47,625        36.4%
Mitsubishi                4312               40,092        -16.3%
Nissan                       4079               38,446       -15.8%
Honda                       3939               31,787       -22.9%
Subaru                      2807               27,225         -9.0%
Volkswagen             2307               22,717         -5.4%


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