Utility vehicles look set to continue dominating the New Zealand vehicle market according to the CEO of a car leasing and finance company.
Five out of the ten bestselling vehicles in the country last year were Utes. It’s a trend which Driveline boss Lance Manins says will continue in 2017.
“Utes have become popular vehicles because they are no longer seen just as a work vehicle, but as a crossover vehicle. So people who are living good, active lifestyles are seeing that the storage abilities of the tray in the back to put all your gear in is quite a strong attribute.”
“They are also more aligned with what you’d expect to see in an SUV as far as the interior layout, comfort, ride quality and features go. They’re all right up there with normal vehicles these days,” he said.
The growing popularity of Utes is not limited to New Zealand. For the first time last year, Australia’s bestselling car was a Ute (the Toyota Hilux). It reflects a marked change in the marketplace.
“Whereas previously it was Toyota Corolla, Suzuki Swift or Holden Commodore might have been the bestselling vehicle in Australia, it goes to show how much the Utility Car Sector has grown. And particularly with people who are in manual trades,” Manins says.
He believes it is a reflection of increased expectations which drivers expect to get out of their vehicle. He says new vehicle buyers are looking to vehicles with more space, up to date technology and a smoother driving experience.
“The Utes in the past haven’t really met the expectations of people that are wanting a reasonable standard of quality in the vehicle of features and all that kind of thing. I think that’s where people are really seeing those benefits of Utes because they have come up to that quality.”