26 Jan
Plotting the course of new car sales statistics in New Zealand has been easy over the last few months, as they've continually been on the up.

SUVs lead new car sales, with records set to be broken

New car sales statistics can occasionally be misleading at times. They may be on the up, but do they really signify an upturn in fortunes of a country's wider motor industry? Well, here in New Zealand, there are more new vehicles hitting the road than ever before, and the automotive sector could be set to feel the benefits as a result.

A record year

Statistics collated by the Motor Industry Association explained that there were 12,474 new vehicle registrations across New Zealand in September. While that may sound like an impressive figure in its own right, it looks even better when bought into perspective against previous figures.

"The new vehicle market continues to flout general economic indicators with sales in September up five per cent on September 2014 and delivering a steady five per cent growth for the year to date. New registrations of 12,474 vehicles is the largest month of September on record," explained David Crawford, Chief Executive Officer of the Motor Industry Association.

Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that Kiwi vehicle buyers – both individuals and businesses – could set an all time record at the end of this year, even in the face of changeable economic conditions.

"If registrations of new vehicles continues at the pace it has done for the first nine months of the year, the industry will easily break the 130,000 unit barrier in 2015 for the first time ever," Mr Crawford concluded.

SUVs are particularly handy when the going gets tough, and Kiwi drivers are lapping them up.SUVs are particularly handy when the going gets tough, and Kiwi drivers are lapping them up.

A country of SUVs

When choosing the right vehicle, fleet managers will likely have a long list of criteria to satisfy. Superior efficiency is a must, especially if drivers are to get the most from fuel card purchases, while general versatility is also an attractive prospect.

1 in 3 vehicles sold in New Zealand is an SUV.

Consequently, many business owners – and individuals alike – are investing in sports-utility vehicles (SUVs). In fact, the Motor Industry Association found that the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux were the most sought-after fleet vehicles in September.

While there can be little denying that both those models are tough enough to tackle any job, stuff.co.nz contributor David Linklater suggested that many Kiwis are pursuing the purchase of an SUV, without fully weighing up the merits – and downsides – of this type of vehicle.

In fact, Mr Linklater surmised that many manufacturers are now producing a number of 'soft-roaders' that aren't really SUVs in the traditional sense.

This can skew some of the sales statistics to an extent. While the overall new car registration figures are indisputable, data published by stuff.co.nz suggested that 1 in 3 vehicles sold in New Zealand is an SUV.

However, this includes a number of 'crossover' type vehicles that may not be suitable to everyone's needs – especially fleet manager who are looking for a particularly robust vehicle.

Continued dominance

As touched on, the general versatility and usability of SUVs means they will remain the savvy choice for fleet managers looking for a vehicle that's adept in myriad situations. Moreover, while the lines of what an SUV actually is may have been blurred, their popularity looks set to continue.

In the recently announced shortlist for New Zealand Car of the Year, more than half of the 10 finalists were all SUVs, according to Yahoo. So, SUVs are here to stay for the time being, and if they can continue to be sold at a rapid rate and support New Zealand's automotive sector, then everyone from fleet managers, to casual drivers, to the manufacturers themselves could all feel the benefits.