CANBERRA – The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries raises its full-year sales forecasts by 10,000 vehicles to a record 820,000 units.

Australia’s previous best year was in 1998, when 807,669 units were sold.

The forecast was boosted after industry figures showed 612,429 vehicles sold in the year’s first nine months, up 8.1% from the year-ago period.

Light commercial vehicle sales increased 18.7% in the first nine months. Within that segment, 4-wheel-drive sales jumped 23.1%. New car sales rose 2.0%, although large car sales were down 3.6%. However, luxury cars, including sports cars, climbed 17.8%.

The industry expects new models from Holden Ltd., Ford Motor Co. of Australia Ltd. and Toyota Motor Corp. Australia Ltd. to help drive sales to record levels.

Toyota recently released its new Camry model. Ford launched its new BA Falcon and Holden its new VY Commodore. September industry sales rose 11.5% year-on-year to 66,034 units.

Holden expects to see record sales this year, with 133,295 vehicles sold in the first nine months, well ahead of Toyota at 115,527 and Ford at 79,569. That gives Holden 21.8% of total sales. Toyota has 18.9% and Ford 13.0%.

Holden's last full-year record of 173,854 sales was set back in 1973. Ross McKenzie, executive director-sales and marketing, predicts the GM subsidiary’s total sales for the year at about 180,000 units.