About 88,000 new cars were sold last month setting a sales record for July, figures obtained by Fairfax show.
The figures, to be released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries on Monday, show growth compared with July last year of about 4 per cent, and come only two weeks after predictions the new car market would slump between 10 per cent and 30 per cent on the back of the controversial government announcement to scrap the 20 per cent flat rate for calculating FBT.
Chamber chief executive Tony Weber said the expectation was for a "bumper month" in July on the back of the all-time record monthly sales posted in June.
"I haven't seen the figures but we were expecting to be in line with June that the [overall sales] number would be well in the 90s [thousands] and anything below that would be a disappointment," Weber said.
"In July a lot of the fleet sales, for instance, would have been locked in. From what we hear from the grassroots about people coming through the showrooms , activity is down and we expect that to be reflected in the sales [longer term]."
His comments were reinforced by industry insiders quick to point out that any drop in sales would be delayed as orders began to drop.
"There would be people who, post the announcement, have cancelled their orders," said one executive who asked not to be named. "So there can be a long lead time between orders and deliveries. August and September will be more representative of the drop in sales."
Among the modest sales growth was some rare good news for some locally produced cars.
Holden's Commodore achieved its best sales result in July since March last year, reversing a long-running sales slump. Much of the growth was due to the arrival of the new VF version of the Commodore, which experienced its first full month in dealerships.
Following months of hype and marketing, the new VF Commodore accounted for about 2900 sales, representing a near 20 per cent increase in sales compared with July last year.
But it was small cars that topped the sales charts - again. Almost 4000 Toyota Corollas were sold in July, eclipsing the second-placed Mazda3, with about 3500 sales. Utes also performed strongly, with the Toyota HiLux muscling out the Commodore for third position.
Sales of sports utility vehicles, which have been running hot for more than a decade, were soft in July with some brands experiencing significant declines. Overall, the SUV segment experienced modest sales growth, but well below the 4 per cent achieved across the entire new-vehicle market.
Top 10 sellers in July