Strong new vehicle sales in the final months of 2011 have put the industry firmly on track to reach 1m sales this year, according to Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) chief executive Ian Chalmers.

The official ‘VFACTS’ data shows 85,196 new vehicles were sold in the month of October, with demand increasing 5.3% (4,271 vehicles) year on year versus October 2010.

“Manufacturers are reporting a steady increase in demand, placing the industry in a strong position to reach our target of one million sales for the calendar year,” Chalmers said.

“So far this year 837,324 new vehicles have been sold. While this is 2.8% fewer than for the same period in 2010, last month’s figures are the best October sales result since 2007 and suggest a return to pre-financial crisis sales volumes.”

Demand for cars, SUVs, light commercials and heavy vehicles all increased last month compared with October 2010.

Passenger car sales grew 5%, SUV sales 5.4%, light commercials 5.7% and heavy vehicles 6.4% (compared with October 2010).

Sales of locally manufactured models also continued to grow, with 13,450 deliveries representing a 20.1% increase over October 2010.

Chalmers said relatively stable fuel prices in October, combined with a perceived return of business confidence, were likely contributors to the strong sales.

Toyota’s Corolla was the single best selling model in September with 3,593 sales, followed by Toyota HiLux (3,480), Volkswagen Golf (3,337), Mazda 3 (3,185) and Holden Commodore (3,018).

Toyota was the best selling brand in October with 17,239 sales, followed by Holden (10,209) and Hyundai (7,507).

Toyota Australia said it had delivered over 148,600 new vehicles so far this year – more than 42,000 ahead of its nearest rival.

Sales and marketing chief David Buttner claimed Toyota’s market-leading results were driving the automotive industry towards 1m sales in 2011.

He said Toyota accounted for better than one out of every five sales last month as the industry posted its strongest October since 2007.

“October was the third month in a row where total industry sales were higher than the corresponding month of the previous year,” Buttner said.

“This trend augurs well for the final two months of the year and the likelihood of annual sales topping one million for only the fourth time,” he added.

Holden’s sales director Philip Brook said constrained availability of Cruze and Captiva models limited Holden’s performance last month, with demand outstripping supply.

“October was a pretty challenging month for us. Customer demand for Cruze and Captiva was greater than availability, which can be a nice problem to have,” he said.

“We expect the situation to improve in November.