The latest VFACTS figures released today for October reveal that the Australian new car market is showing signs of economic recovery with sales up on a year ago for the first time in 16 months.

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Official data from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) shows that 80,813 passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles were sold in October 2009 – an increase of 2.2 per cent compared to the same month last year.

“This was a good solid monthly result with the welcome return of private, business and rental buyers in larger numbers,” FCAI Chief Executive Andrew McKellar said.“This is the first month since June 2008 that sales have increased when compared to the year before,” he said.

The SUV segment led the market for October with a 9.5 per cent increase, followed by light commercials which were up 3.4 per cent and passenger cars up 1.3 per cent.

Sales of heavy commercial vehicles recorded a significant decline of 24.9 per cent for October 2009 year-on-year.

“While the latest figures are encouraging we would urge the Reserve Bank to proceed with caution in contemplating further interest rate rises until the foundations of a full recovery are clearly established,” He said.

The overall market is still lagging with year-to-date new vehicle sales totalling 762,787, down 11.7 per cent compared to the same period last year.

The usual suspects dominate the sales charts with Toyota remaining as the top Australian seller with 17,888 sales, ahead of Holden with 10,737 and Ford with 8,240.