Car sales charge
From the Daily Telegraph
IT'S boom time for the Australian car industry with sales charging towards record levels.
Defying the spectre of rising interest rates, demand for new cars and trucks climbed 8.5 per cent in the first half this year.
Releasing official sales figures for June, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) said 406,966 new vehicles were retailed in the first six months, the first time above 400,000.
The record first-half result suggested the best full-year figure of 807,669 set in 1998 would also be beaten this year.
The FCAI said demand so far had prompted it to lift its full-year sales forecast to 810,000, a level still considered conservative by some car companies and industry analysts.
In June, 78,781 new vehicles were retailed, a 7.1 per cent improvement on the same month last year.
Toyota was the top selling company last month with 17,037 units, ahead of Holden on 15,657 and Ford on 10,023 .
But on a year-to-date basis Holden was a clear leader on 88,476, compared with 77,554 for Toyota and 52,320 for Ford.
Holden also had its best first half on record, beating its previous best set in 1973.
Its lead over traditional rival Ford was also at an all-time high.
Holden director of sales and marketing Ross McKenzie said he expected the market to remain strong in the second half of 2002.
"The fundamentals are still fairly low interest rates and highly-competitive finance in the car industry," he said.
"You've also still got pretty strong consumer sentiment and business sentiment and I don't believe that any of the broader international issues will have any effect until next year."
Mr McKenzie said the unusual situation of Holden, Ford and Toyota all bringing out new volume-selling models later this year would also continue to stimulate demand.
Toyota said its first-half result was just 682 units short of its best ever in 1999.
"Toyota has experienced significant sales growth right across its range," said senior executive vice president John Conomos.
"It puts Toyota in a stronger position going into the second half of 2002."
In June the top selling car remained the Holden Commodore on 7,548, well ahead of the Ford Falcon on 4,746.
In the medium-car market the Toyota Camry did best with sales reaching 2,911 ahead of Mitsubishi Magna/Verada on 2,648.
But they were both beaten by the top selling small car, the Toyota Corolla, which was snapped up by 3,479 buyers.
Strong results were also reported by the Mazda 323 (1,601), the Holden Astra (2,056) and the Hyundai Accent (2,616) reflecting the hot competition in the small-car sector.
However, the segment really driving the sales increase this year remained light commercial, which was up more than 19 per cent thanks to Australia's continuing love affair with four-wheel-drive recreational vehicles.
You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen. It said, 'Parking Fine.'So that was nice.