HOLDEN has blitzed the competition to take the No. 1 new vehicle sales position for 2001, producing its best result for 28 years.
Official figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries VFACTs yesterday showed that Holden sold 165,579 vehicles last year, a 21.4 per cent market share.
Toyota was in second spot with 141,282 vehicles sold. Ford took third place on 106,730.
Adelaide-based manufacturer Mitsubishi proved the doubters wrong by managing fourth spot with 67,757 vehicles. Its much-maligned Magna achieved sales of 21,720, down just 1550 over its 2000 result.
Overall, VFACTs figures showed that 2001 was the fourth largest market year on record. There were 772,681 vehicles sold, defying an expected downturn in sales on the back of increased international uncertainties.
Holden's Commodore was the country's best-selling car for the sixth consecutive year with 85,422 sold, eclipsing arch-rival, Ford's Falcon, by 31,888 vehicles.
FCAI chief executive Peter Sturrock attributed the sales bonanza to keen pricing and low interest rates.
He predicted that 2002 would also be a bumper year, tipping sales to reach 780,000.
Holden's marketing director Megan Stooke said Holden's result was particularly impressive given that 60 per cent of local new vehicle sales last year were imports.
She said the Melbourne-based company would not become complacent about its leading edge.
"It's something we take very seriously," she said. "I think its about maintaining momentum . . . and we can't afford to treat our success arrogantly."
Both Holden and Ford plan a vehicle onslaught this year.
Holden will unveil five new models this year, among them the new VY Commodore and Ute in September, a new 2.2-litre and V6 Vectra mid-year and small Cruze niche four-wheel drive. Its Astra convertible has just gone on sale.
Orders for some models of the much-lauded Monaro extend to June.
Ford expects to launch its heavily revised AV Falcon in September, featuring new engines and a significantly upgraded body to counter the lacklustre success of its AU Falcon.
At Holden, exports remain a key to its success, Ms Stooke said.
Late last year Holden said it expected to export 35,000 vehicles this year, up from 2001's figure of 29,000.
The increase would come from stronger Middle East sales and a likely new push into Mexico where it believes it could sell up to 10,000 vehicles a year.
Deliveries of Commodore utes to South Africa start this month after a 30-year break, and the company remains strongly committed to its left-hand drive Middle East export program for both the Commodore and Statesman.
Second-placed Toyota also attributed its strong performance to a solid export focus.
Toyota delivered a record 59,200 Melbourne-made Camrys to 33 export markets in 2001.
Luxury cars and sportscars were among the sales highlights for the year, according to VFACTs.
Demand for luxury vehicles was strong, up 22.9 per cent overall for the year compared to 2000.
One of the luxury stars was Mercedes-Benz, which had a 26 per cent rise in sales last year to a record of 12,042 passenger cars and four-wheel drives, for total sales of 16,312 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.
The AutoGuide.com network consists of the largest network of enthusiast-owned enthusiast-operated automotive communities.
AutoGuide.com provides the latest car reviews, auto show coverage, new car prices, and automotive news. The AutoGuide network operates more than 100 automotive forums where our users consult peers for shopping information and advice, and share opinions as a community.