The growth of SUVs in New Zealand goes a long way to explaining the old maxim that car ownership is not about what we truly need, but more a combination of what we want and what we think we need.
The traditional car – sedan, station wagon, hatchback – has been shunted aside over the years by an SUV feeding frenzy fuelled partly by marketing hype that said New Zealanders are an outdoorsy people and need such vehicles.
That they mostly use them for journeys far away from anything ‘outdoorsy’ doesn’t matter. The image of an adventurous spirit will do nicely in an SUV world of Walter Mittys.
The SUV market has of course changed from the days when they were mostly big and called 4WDs. Now they’re big, medium and small and called crossovers, many 2WD only.
Seems everyone wants one, too, more so in a year plagued with covid-19. At the end of September, 42,491 of the 58,952 new passenger cars (excluding utes) registered with the NZ Transport Agency were SUVs. That’s a record 72.0% share.
Here’s how SUVs have grown in popularity in the past seven years:
2013: 82,433 passenger cars, 30,478 (37.0%) of which were SUVs
2014: 90,632 – 37,013 (40.8%) SUVs
2015: 95,097 – 45,376 (47.7%) SUVs
2016: 102,644 – 52,913 (51.5%) SUVs
2017: 108,608 – 64,842 (59.7%) SUVs
2018: 108,210 – 67,590 (62.4%) SUVs
2019: 104,270 – 67,558 (64.7%) SUVs
In 2013, six of the top 15 passenger vehicles were SUVs. Now 13 of the 15 are SUVs. And there are more crossover/SUVs on the way next year.
Among them will be Audi’s new Q-series models. France’s Peugeot will have a battery-electric variant (above) of the 2008 SUV. Early in the year Kia will add the compact Stonic (below) to its top-selling Sportage and Seltos line-ups.
Meantime, Ford will launch its new Puma (at top) at the end of this month. It’s a compact front-wheel-drive crossover SUV based on the hatchback Fiesta platform and powered by a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine delivering 92kW/170Nm. Gearbox is a seven-speed auto. Both standard and better equipped ST models will be available. Puma starts at $29,990.