Booming sales of four-wheel-drives (SUVs), luxury cars and light commercial vehicles have pushed Australian motor vehicle sales to another record monthly result.

Figures released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries showed that a record 81,667 vehicles were sold in October, exceeding the previous record for October - set last year - by 3.1%.

The Australian automotive industry has now enjoyed record sales in 17 of the last 18 months.

One of the main drivers of sales growth in October was the medium SUV segment which was up 73.7% on the same month last year. For the year to date medium SUV sales were up 59.2%.

"Much of the growth in this segment can be attributed to Ford' s Australian designed and built Territory model which has been an instant success since it was launched mid-year," said FCAI chief executive Peter Sturrock.

"Significantly, the success of Territory has not been at the expense of other models in the segment - it' s grown the market," he added.

Total vehicle sales for the year to date are up 4.8% and 2004 is now certain to be the third successive year of record sales, exceeding last year's total of 909,811.

"With two months to go we expect the final total for the year will come close to our forecast of a record 960,000 sales," added Sturrock.

"The combination of strong long term economic conditions and the recent launch of several significant new models at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney is attracting buyers in their droves."

He said other pointers to the strength of the economy could be seen in the sales of the prestige car segment which is up 8,308 or 36.6% for the year to date over the same period last year, and the light truck market which is up more than 15,000 vehicles or 12.4%.

"Business confidence remains generally very high as indicated by the increased number of light commercial vehicles being sold," said Sturrock.

Toyota was the best selling brand in October with sales of 16,964 - just ahead of General Motors' Holden with 16,340. Ford was third with 10,560.

Year to date Toyota leads Holden by 18,833 sales.

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