SUV sales break 44-year-old record

SUVs are available with two and three rows of seats that can be individually folded to create a versatile and spacious load area. One-third of this SUV’s rear seat has been lowered to accommodate a mountain bike, leaving two-thirds for passengers. Photo supplied.

Last year’s total new vehicle sales were the highest on record with 146,753 registrations, an impressive 9.5 per cent increase on 2015.

Overall, the passenger and SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) market for 2016, excluding light commercials, was the strongest ever with 102,514 registrations. It broke a long-standing record dating back to 1973 when 97,346 passenger vehicles were sold.

“The 2016 record year marked a continued shift in buyer preference and market dynamics with, for the first time in New Zealand history, more SUVs being sold than passenger vehicles,” said David Crawford, the Motor Industry Association’s chief executive officer.

“SUVs accounted for 36 per cent of the market (52,913 vehicles) compared to 35 per cent for all other passenger vehicles (51,552) and 29 per cent for commercial vehicles.”

SUV sales are broken down into four segments: small, medium, large and luxury. Medium was the top segment for the year with 21,473 units, for a 15 per cent share of total new vehicle sales.

SUVs’ increasing popularity is due to their car-like driving characteristics, comfort, practicality, extremely versatile load-carrying ability, and an elevated seating position that offers good visibility.

Diesel, petrol, hybrid and plug-in electric power plants are on offer, along with two- and four-wheel-drive.