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VFACTS  Recession buster: Sales of the Hyunda i30 doubled in February compared with the same month last year.

Recession buster: Sales of the Hyunda i30 doubled in February compared with the same month last year.

February market down 21.9 per cent, but not half as bad as US plunge

VEHICLE sales in Australia fell 21.9 per cent in February compared with the same month last year.

According to official VFACTS figures released today, new vehicle sales totalled 70,241 in February – 3162 more than in January but 19,657 fewer than February 2008.

The Holden Commodore took back the title of Australia’s top-selling car from the Mazda3, but the big mover was Hyundai, which defied the industry trend to record a 9.3 per cent growth on the back of strong sales for its i30 and Getz small cars.

Toyota was down 28.2 per cent for the month, but was still the market leader with a 20.3 per cent share, well ahead of Holden (12.9 per cent), Ford (10.5 per cent) and Mazda (9.1 per cent).

Although the Australian market remains depressed, it is much healthier than the United States market, which was down 41.3 per cent in February.

Worst hit were again the once Big Three auto-makers, with General Motors down 53.1 per cent, Ford down 49.5 per cent and Chrysler down 44.0 per cent, but Toyota, Honda and Nissan were also down by almost 40 per cent.

US Hyundai bucked the trend by dropping only 0.7 per cent while Subaru was unique in lifting its US sales (but dropped 21.0 per cent in Australia).

In Australia, business sales dropped more than private sales (down 21.6 and 17.4 per cent respectively), but Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Andrew McKellar pointed out that government incentives had now made this a good time for businesses to buy new vehicles.

“The Federal Government has taken action to provide businesses with a considerable tax break when they invest in assets, including new vehicles,” said Mr McKellar.

He said that many businesses will be able to claim a deduction of up to 30 per cent of the cost of an eligible new vehicle purchased before 30 June 2009.








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