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Small stands tall as rates threaten

Holden Commodore made it to number one in the models list while Toyota is the top selling make for 2008 so far.

As interest rates bite and with it consumer belt-tightening, some analysts predict a slowdown this year.

But the first two months of the year showed strong gains over the same period last year.

Light-car sales rose 2236, or 22.5 per cent, and the small-car segment rose 1645, or 8.6 per cent, over February last year, according to the latest VFACTs industry sales figures.

The off-roader, or SUV market, grew by 3365 vehicles, or 22.6 per cent.

These gains were partially countered by declines in the large-car segment, down 2488 or 19.9 per cent, and medium-car segment, down 383 or 5.1 per cent.

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Andrew McKeller says the runout of key models has affected volumes in the large and medium segments.

The arrival of the new FG Falcon in May and expanding Holden Commodore line-up with its Sportwagon will help turn around sales figures in coming months, he says.

Toyota was the top-selling brand in February with 20,703 sales, or 23 per cent of the market, ahead of Holden with 12,386 sales, 13.8 per cent, and Ford with 9405 sales, 10.5 per cent.

For the year so far, Toyota leads Holden by 15,916 sales and remains market leader with a 22.4 per cent market share.

Holden has a 13.1 per cent overall market share and Ford is third at 9.9 per cent.

Among the light and small-car stars were the Suzuki Swift, Hyundai Getz, Mazda3, Toyota Corolla and Yaris, Honda Civic and Mitsubishi Lancer.

Holden was large-car leader, selling 4313 VE Commodores, followed by Ford with 2520 Falcons and Toyota with 1855 Aurions.

The announcement of the end of Mitsubishi 380 production affected February sales, the company sold only 471 380 V6s.

Melbourne-based industry analyst Tony Robinson, of SurePlan, believes new-car demand will soften late in the year.

There is usually a six to nine-month lag between spiking interest rates and its impact on buyer patterns, he says.

But he is confident the market will still go close to one million sales this year.


What's selling

Top 10 makes

1 Toyota 20,703

2 Holden 12,236

3 Ford 9405

4 Mazda 7022

5 Honda 4800

6 Mitsubishi 5423

7 Nissan 5100

8 Subaru 3371

9 Hyundai 4010

10 Volkswagen 2883


Top 10 models

1 Holden Commodore 4313

2 Toyota Corolla 4191

3 Toyota HiLux 3325

4 Mazda3 2825

5 Ford Falcon 2520

6 Toyota Yaris 2280

7 Toyota Aurion 1855

8 Toyota Camry 1723

9 Mitsubishi Lancer 1682

10 Honda Civic 1665