Australia record-breaking surge in vehicle sales has been declared “the firm platform of demand” by the peak industry body.

With the 2004 tally expected to go close to one million for the first time, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries executive director Peter Sturrock said: “The level of sales activity no longer is an aberration but the norm.

“Our analysis suggests we are looking at future annual sales between 950,000 and one million vehicles.”

Sturrock said the buoyant economy, strong competition among brands and the high number of new vehicle launches were combining to stimulate sales on an on-going basis.

Australians bought 97,212 cars and commercials in June, 5,154 or 5.6% more than the previous monthly record set in June, 2003.

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This took year-to-date registrations to 473,516 new vehicles.

With second half sales Down Under traditionally producing stronger demand than the first, a final result ahead of the FCAI’s forecast of 960,000, and possibly over one million, is a real possibility.

New vehicle sales in 2003 reached 909,811 units, and in doing so established a new record mark for the Australian automotive industry. The previous record was set at 824,309 in 2002.

But Sturrock stopped short of predicting Australia could be on its way to the million vehicle sales year.

“Many factors, among them the looming federal election, could stand in the way of a million sales,” he said.

Toyota became the first brand to sell more than 100,000 vehicles in the first six months of a year. The market leader retailed 22,116 cars and commercials in June for 22.8% of the market and 100,727 since January 1 for 21.3% of the national market.

GM affiliate Holden was the second top seller in June with 17,502 sales for 18% (88,381 or 18.7% year to date) and Ford Australia was third with 13,314 sales for 13.7% (64,334 or 13.6%).

Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd, hit hard by long-standing speculation that its Adelaide manufacturing assembly would close under the car maker’s global restructuring, had its best month since June 2003, with 6,857 sales for 7.1% of the market.

MMAL president Tom Phillips said: “After all the problems of recent times, it’s nice to have something to feel really good about.

“Hopefully, this is the start of a trend towards a much brighterfuture.”

The Holden Commodore stretched its lead as the nation’s top selling car with 7,746 sales.

The Ford Falcon also turned in another solid effort with 6,716 sales, helping the brand to its best June sales for 15 years. Ford’s multi-purpose (crossover) Territory enjoyed good sales of 1,372 in June – below its target of 2000 a month but with production ramping up dealers are being caught with stock shortages.

But Holden will not be satisfied with the 177 all-wheel drive Adventra sales recorded during the month.

Most importers reported record sales during the first half of the year.

Mazda’s record June sales of 5,543 units marked 24 months of year-on-year growth. Since 2000 the brand’s sales have grown from 27,505 to 53,217, an increase of 93.5%.

Sports utility vehicles and the heavy commercial vehicle markets proved the prime growth areas.

SUV sales were up by 2,380 or 15.3% versus June 2003, and heavy trucks sales were 370 or 16% stronger than the same month last year.

Half yearly sales of passenger vehicles reached 290,850, up 2.1%.

SUVs claimed 85,545 deliveries, an increase of 13.8%.

Demand for light trucks is up 16.4% to 84,049 and the heavy truck market is up 20.5% at 13,072 vehicles.

Top selling brands in June:
1 Toyota 22,116 22.8%
2 Holden 17,502 18%
3 Ford 13,314 13.7%
4 Mitsubishi 6857 7.1%
5 Nissan 6377 6.6%
6 Mazda 5543 5.7%
7 Hyundai 4684 4.8%
8 Honda 3533 3.6%
9 Subaru 3460 3.6%
10 Kia 2348 2.4%.

Top selling brands in January-June
1 Toyota 100,727 21.3%
2 Holden 88,381 18.7%
3 Ford 64,334 13.6%
4 Nissan 31,150 6.6%
5 Mitsubishi 28,984 6.1%
6 Mazda 28,813 6.1%
7 Hyundai 20,751 4.4%
8 Honda 18,114 3.8%
9 Subaru 17,537 3.7%
10 Kia 11,881 2.5%