The Australian new vehicle market started the year with a solid January result albeit down slightly on last year due to a significant decrease in sales in the flood-ravaged state of Queensland.

Official VFACTS data released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) showed that 73,584 passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles were sold in January (down 1.7% or 1,280 vehicles compared to the same month in 2010).

“This is a robust January sales result and provides a good start to 2011,” FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar said.

“It is encouraging to see that private buyers remained confident throughout January with sales to those customers up 13.6% while business purchases declined,” he said.

Sales of new vehicles in Queensland were down 12.8% or almost 2,000 vehicles this January.

“Obviously new vehicle sales in Queensland have taken a hit as people concentrate on the flood recovery effort,” he said.

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“We can expect sales in Queensland to be slower in the short-term but will pick up in the months ahead as people begin to look for replacement vehicles,” McKellar said.

Toyota was the best performing brand in January with a market share of 20.1% followed by Holden with 11.4% and then Mazda with a 9.8% share.