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This year looks like a boomer in Aussie motoring

Ford's updated Territory with a less thirsty diesel engine is one of many eagerly anticipated cars of 2011.

All the signs are positive after a strong run through 2010 on everything from new models and new technology to the price of cars and petrol and even motorsport.

Last year produced a million-plus result in showrooms, only the third on record and a huge turnover in a country with a population of just over 22 million people. And the sales total for 2011 is likely to be even bigger.

The fuel for the sales growth will come, as usual, from the importance of cars in Australia and the incredible number of new models that his showrooms each year. No-one can underestimate the sense of freedom that Australians tap with their cars, or the genuine needs of people who rely on cars for everything from day-to-day commuting to long-distance nomadic work.

Car companies are currently doing all they can to clear their backlog of 2010 stock in readiness for the first arrivals of 2011, which means great buying for at least another month. Cars are like horses, because they all get a year older on the same day, and anything in a showroom now with a 2010 build date is out-of-date.

But there is nothing out-of-date about the lineup for the first major motoring event of the year, the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It opens next week with the unveiling of everything from a Hyundai Veloster and the next Honda Civic to a new Porsche supercar.

There will be lots of news from Detroit, perhaps including Holden's plans to revive Commodore exports to the USA and the potential future of the Ford Falcon. Chrysler will show its new 300C, which will take more than a year to reach Australia, and Chinese brands are promising another new wave of technology and small cars.

Chinese cars will be one of the big stories in Australia in 2011, with Chery, Geely and Great Wall all planning to start passenger car sales down under. Great Wall is already doing well with its value-priced utes and SUVs but it's Chery that is looking for the big breakthrough with baby cars that undercut the Korean price leaders.

On the motorsport front, the Dakar Rally is already blazing through South America - with Bruce Garland doing his best for Australia in an Isuzu D-Max - the V8 Supercar championship will be another boomer, and Mark Webber will be looking to improve on his 2011 season in another year with Red Bull Racing.

Melbourne will be motoring central again this year, not just because it is home to the three local carmakers - Holden, which has the local Cruze this year; Ford, which is about to go with the updated Territory; and Toyota, which has an all-new Camry for 2011 - but also thanks to everything from the Australian Grand Prix to the latest running of the Australian International Motor Show.

The organisers of the show have confirmed this year's dates as July 1-10, with the promise of a truly world-class event. Moving the date is planning to bring more people indoors to look at the shiny new metal and, more importantly, open up a new position on the global motoring calendar to allow the Australian show to become a major Asian motoring event each year.

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