The Australian motor vehicle market is charging towards an annual record of over 1m sales, following another very strong result in November, a local trade group said.

Data from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries showed that a record 92,081 cars, trucks and buses were sold last month - an increase of 8,784 or 10.5% on November 2006, a continuation of the upward trend seen throughout the year.

Total sales are now 963,732 year-to-date - up 78,129 or 8.8% year on year.

"The market appears to have been unfazed by the November interest rate rise. In addition, the timing of the federal election also had little or no impact on buying intentions," said FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar.

"In historical terms motor vehicles are very affordable and intense price competition between brands is only making them more so."

The FCAI said the continued strength of the Australian dollar is underpinning the competitiveness of many models and consumers are responding to the improved value for money that is on offer.

McKellar said that the relative affordability and value for money of many new cars appeared to explain why the car market has been largely unaffected by interest rate rises.

"The underlying strength of motor vehicle sales is quite clear," he said, "and it appears that fleet buyers and private buyers remain convinced that now is a good time to buy a new vehicle."

Earlier in the year the FCAI forecast total vehicle sales of 1m units for 2007.

McKellar said it was now clear that this forecast would be exceeded comfortably.

The previous record of 988,269 sales was set in 2005.

Market growth has been widespread, with almost every segment and category contributing.

The main contributors to additional sales volume in November were the small car segment, which was up 1.605 or 9.0%, light cars (up 1,555 or 15.4%), the SUV medium segment (up 1,401 or 26.3%), pick-up/cab chassis 4x2 (up 1,654 or 30.5%) and pick-up/cab chassis 4x4 (up 1245 or 21.6%).

New model activity has helped grow the total SUV market by 15.6% during the year.

Rising fuel prices don't appear to have had much impact on the SUV market, with sales volumes of larger SUVs growing just as fast as the smaller ones, McKellar noted.

Toyota was the top-selling brand in November with 20,956 sales or 22.8% of the market, ahead of Holden with 12,498 and Ford with 9,219.

Year to date, Toyota now leads Holden by 79,818 sales.

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