New Zealand's Motor Industry Association said record net immigration, a healthy tourism sector and a generally robust economy continued to drive sales of new vehicles beyond expectations with July sales up 11.6% year on year to 11,570 new vehicles and year to date volume up 6.2% to 80,612 cars and commercial vehicles.

Registrations of new SUVs now regularly exceed those in all other passenger vehicle segments, the MIA added.

In July 7,702 new passenger and SUV vehicles were sold plus 3,868 commercial vehicles, the latter a July record.

Toyota was overall market leader last month with 17% followed by Ford (13%) and Holden (8%).

Toyota was also passenger car market leader with a 17% share followed by Mazda (9%) and Holden (9%).

But Ford regained the commercial vehicle market lead from Toyota (18%) with a 25% share with Holden third (8%). Year to date both Ford and Toyota have 21% of the commercial market with Ford holding a slight lead with 5,357 units registered to date and Toyota with 5,318 units.

The Toyota Corolla was the top selling passenger model for the month of July with 6% followed by the Kia Sportage (5%) and Toyota RAV4 (4%).

The Ford Ranger was top selling commercial model for July with 24% market share (925 units) and also set a record for the number of light commercial vehicles sold in a month.

The Hilux was next (13%) followed by the Holden Colorado (8%). Year to date the Ranger is top selling commercial with a 20% share.

SUVs accounted for 34% of July registrations followed by passenger vehicles (32%) and light commercials (28%).

"Consumer preferences for different types of vehicles continues to evolve. It is the rise and rise of the SUV segment that has seen the biggest substitution over the years. It accounted for only 12% of the market in 2002 and 18% during the global financial crisis but, by the end of 2016, is likely to be 37% of the market. In which case 2016 will, for the first time, see the SUV segment outselling the passenger segment over a 12-month period" said MIA chief David Crawford.

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