Despite the rising cost of fuel, New Zealanders seem more committed to the idea of an SUV as their personal choice for transport, says the Motor Trade Association (MTA). Its analysis of the new car market over the last five years shows owners have taken to SUVs in "steadily increasing numbers" and they now sit just behind small cars as the largest segment. Sales in 2010 totalled almost 11,500 units. The MTA includes soft off-roaders in the SUV mix. Growth from 20 per cent to 26 per cent of overall new car sales over five years is not surprising says MTA spokesman Ian Stronach. “The trend towards SUVs is well established in overseas markets and has been for some time. We’ve basically just followed that growth in popularity. As more models become available, it may become the most popular class of vehicle on the market.”
Some of this growth appears to have come at the expense of smaller, and more fuel efficient vehicles. During 2010, the small car segment (typically under 1.5 litres) dropped from 29 per cent to 27 per cent of the new car market, with the light segment (typically 1.6 – 2.0 litres) falling from 20 per cent to 17 per cent.