Australian new-vehicle deliveries in November hit 85,833 units, bouncing back 19.9% from year-ago, when sales plunged to their lowest level in seven years.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries credits the surge to businesses taking advantage of federal tax incentives to purchase light-commercial vehicles and SUVs.

November 2008 sales tumbled 22.2% to 71,647 units, from 92,047 in like-2007.

“This is an extraordinary result that provides further evidence the market, and the broader Australian economy, are showing signs of recovery,” FCAI CEO Andrew McKellar says in a statement.

“The exceptional November figures could not have been achieved without the federal government’s small-business tax break,” he adds. “Business sales increased an incredible 35.4% during the month, spurred on by the substantial incentives available until the end of the year.”

The tax break allows a business with a turnover of less than A$2 million ($1.85 million) annually to claim a 50% bonus tax deduction on designated vehicle purchases. All other businesses can claim a 10% bonus tax break.

But McKellar expresses a note of caution for the industry regarding the Reserve Bank of Australia's increase in official interest rates by 25 basis points to 3.75%, the third rise in as many months.

“There is the risk that if the banks move too early and too rapidly to increase rates, the positive impact of this stimulus measure will be diminished,” he says.

The SUV segment led the market in November, with sales climbing 44% to 18,360 units, Light-commercial vehicles followed, up 38.9% to 18,094, while cars rose 9.4% to 47,059, FCAI’s VFACTS data shows.

Despite the good news, November’s results still left total year-to-date industry sales down 9.3% at 848,620 units.

Through the first 11 months, car deliveries fell 10.3% to 493,939 units, compared with prior-year’s 550,861. Light-commercial vehicle sales dropped 6.1% to 161,048, from 171,545, while SUVs slid 6.5% to 168,537, from 180,244.

Toyota Motor Corp. Australia Ltd. held its top sales position in November, with 19,603 units, ahead of GM Holden Ltd. (11,391) and Ford Motor Co. of Australia Ltd. (8,868).

Industry Minister Kim Carr says the recovery is good news for the Australian automotive industry.

“Sales for Holden, Ford and Toyota were all up, with Holden up 1.8%, Ford up 32.4% and Toyota up 0.5%,” he says in a statement. “Locally built vehicles made up 16.6% of sales.

“Sales of Australian-made vehicles totaled 14,232 units, up 11.1% compared with November 2008,” he adds.

“Among the better local performers, sales of the locally built Ford Falcon Ute (pickup truck) were up 105%, and sales of the Holden Ute were up 48%, again demonstrating the impact of the government’s tax break.”

But it was Toyota's HiLux pickup that topped the new-vehicle sales charts, helping the auto maker retain overall market leadership by more than 72,000 units. November was the fourth time the HiLux was been the best-selling vehicle in Australia.

“The speed and strength of Australia's economic upturn plus well-targeted incentives have helped produce solid new-vehicle sales,” David Buttner, Toyota Australia senior executive director-sales and marketing, says in a statement.

GM Holden says its Commodore remains on track to become Australia’s top-selling car for the 14th year in a row, with 40,041 units sold year-to-date, including 3,956 in November.

“Showroom interest in our new direct-injection Commodore, with its improved fuel economy, is very high,” GM Holden Sales and Marketing Executive Director John Elsworth says in a statement.

The Holden Cruze had its strongest sales month since it arrived in showrooms in June, with 2,274 deliveries in November. “Our order books for Cruze are full, and we expect demand to remain exceptionally strong,” Elsworth says.

BMW Australia Ltd. enjoyed its best-ever November sales and is on track to wrap up the country’s luxury-segment crown for the sixth year in a row. The auto maker’s sales rose 28.9% to 1,717 for the month, pushing year-to-date results to 15,656.

“Although this year is not yet over, BMW will clearly finish on a high,” BMW Group Australia Managing Director Stavros Yallouridis says in a statement.

Chrysler Australia Pty. Ltd. saw sales climb 46%, albeit to 875 units, in November, with the Jeep Wrangler and the refreshed Jeep Patriot both achieving their best monthly results since launching in 2007.

“The) Wrangler is consistently our best seller, and last month was no different,” Chrysler Managing Director Gerry Jenkins says in a statement. “We’re expecting (the) Patriot to close the gap as more stock arrives into our dealers over the coming weeks.”