Official VFACTS data released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) shows that 82,219 passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles were sold in February, up 17.1% (or 11,978 vehicles) on the same month in 2009.

"This is a very strong result and provides further evidence of renewed growth in vehicle sales," FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar said.

Private buyers returned to the market in greater numbers during February, recording a 9.3% increase on the same month last year.

Business sales remained strong (22.7% increase) and there was a sharp rise in the number of vehicles sold to rental companies (175% increase).

"Deliveries of vehicles purchased under the business tax break are gradually phasing down and we need to examine how the market will look without the impact of economic stimulus," McKellar said. Looking ahead, sustaining the confidence of private buyers is the key challenge for the economy. For that reason we continue to be cautious about the impact of interest rate increases."

Toyota retained the top selling position in February, increasing its market share to 20.5%; followed by Holden with 13.6% and, for the first time in third position, Hyundai with 8.8%.