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The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has today announced a promising start to the year for the automotive industry. However the news is not good for locally built vehicles.

Last month Australians bought 82,270 new cars and commercial vehicles, an increase of 6.9 per cent over January 2007, which as a whole, is good indication of things to come.

Nonetheless, FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar has warned that the 6.9 per cent growth may not reflect in the overall end-of-year figures.

The best segments were light (up 8.4 per cent) and small cars as well as SUVs (up 20 per cent) but the once traditional large vehicle segment continued to decline with a significant 20 per cent reduction in sales compared to last year.

2007 VE Holden Calais V6

If a 20 per cent decline didn’t sound bad enough, when that figure is examined, the cars that suffer the most are from local manufacturers.

Furthermore, sales of locally manufactured models reduced 11.5 per cent, or 1407 vehicles compared to last January but imported cars increased 10.4 per cent.

“While overall sales are buoyant, the results reinforce the significant competitive challenges facing local manufacturers,” Mr McKellar said.

The local manufacturers gamble to go all-out in the large car segment has not paid off and Mr McKellar is pushing for an early commencement of the Federal Government’s scheduled review of the industry

“The review must play a critical role in ensuring future policy arrangements provide an ongoing basis for a sustainable and competitive automotive manufacturing industry in Australia.”

Other factors such as rising petrol prices and an increase in stamp duty have also played a role in shaping the current market trend.

A recent move by the Queensland Government to increase new-vehicle stamp duty has resulted in just 1.2 per cent growth in the sunshine state, in comparison to the national average rise of 6.9 per cent.

Once again Toyota was the market leader in January, with the four-cylinder Corolla taking the honours as Australia’s best-selling car for the month with 3,843 units. Holden’s Commodore came in second with 3210 units.






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