Australian motor vehicle sales are on course towards a new annual sales record – topping the 1m mark for the first time – following another strong result in April.

Official VFACTS figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) show that 75,614 cars, trucks and buses were sold in April – up 6,964 or 10.1% on the same month last year.

So far this year the car market is up 9.0% to 204,683 units on the first four months of 2006 and up 5.5% on the same period in the record year of 2005.

“On the present bullish sales trends it is very likely that by the end of 2007 we will reach 1m annual motor vehicle sales for the first time ever,” said FCAI chief executive Peter Sturrock.

He added that sales of locally made cars in April were particularly encouraging.

The large passenger car segment was up 15.1% in April – to 10,554 units – and is now up 4.5% for the year to date (45,879).

The upper large segment, which includes Australian-made long-wheelbase models, was up 51.0% in April (702) and 43.0% (3,084) for the year so far.

In the medium segment, Australian-built Toyota Camry sales were up 57.0% last month and 32.1% year-to-date.

“As we forecast, the new generation of Australian models launched by Holden and Toyota have gained momentum and are selling very well – which should give great heart to the local car industry,” said Sturrock.

“There is plenty of evidence in the sales statistics that there is still a significant market for larger vehicles in Australia.”

He gave as an example the four-wheel-drive pick-up segment, sales of which were up 25.8% last month and 29.0% for the year so far.

Sales in the SUV compact segment boomed in by 45.3% in April on the back of new model launches.

Elsewhere, the growth of light car sales continued last month (up 15.2% to 9,545)) but the larger small segment softened by 6.7%. to 14,986.

Toyota was the top-selling brand in April with 16,383, followed by Holden (11,166) and Ford (7741).

Holding the next four places were Mazda, Honda, Mitsubishi and Nissan – all of whom achieved sales gains over the same month last year.