Another record month of small and light car sales has all but ensured that the Australian motor vehicle market is heading for its fourth straight annual sales record.

According to VFACTS figures released on Monday by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), a total of 83,538 new cars, trucks and buses were sold in November, fractionally (0.9%) down on the record for the month set last year.

Year to date the 2005 market has now reached 908,992 - 37,743 or 3.7% ahead of the same period last year.

"It now seems almost certain the industry will post another substantial annual record as car buyers are lured in big numbers by the end of year sales," said FCAI chief executive Peter Sturrock.

In 2004, the industry set a new sales record of 955,229.

"The underlying strength of the Australian economy is evident in these sales figures," said Sturrock.

"Despite the downturn in property prices many people continue to find new cars increasingly attractive and affordable."

Smaller vehicles remained the main drivers of passenger vehicle sales growth in November, with the small car segment up 2,134 or 12.8% compared to November 2004 and light cars up 741 or 10.2%.

"So far this year the small and light car segments have added almost 39,000 sales, more than accounting for the overall growth of the motor vehicle market," noted Sturrock.

Petrol prices continued to affect buying patterns in November, affecting sales of large cars and sport utility vehicles - although the SUV market remained up by 4.1% year-to-date.

The best-selling brand in November was Toyota with 17,849 sales or 21.4% of the market, followed by Holden with 14,546 (17.4%) and Ford with 11,479 (13.7%).

Mazda was fourth with 5,509 (6.6%) followed by an improving Mitsubishi with 5,123 (6.1%). Mitsubishi' s sales are now up 11.0% for the year-to-date.

So far this year, Toyota was top seller with 184,397 sales, followed by Holden with 162,110.