It is no secret that SUVs are the engine room of growth in the current record-setting Australian new vehicle market. Indeed, sales of these vehicles are now almost on a par with conventional passenger cars.
But more interesting is that within this overall SUV growth, it’s the high-end luxury brands that are escalating their sales at the quickest rate. One might come to the swift conclusion that we Australians have expensive tastes and a lust for badge recognition.
Gee, you don’t say?
Leading the charge is BMW, which grew its SUV sales (or ‘SAVs’, as it calls them) by 61 per cent to 6130 units, between January and May this year.
Every offering in BMW’s family of SUVs is going strong, be it the new X1 (up four-fold to 1779), X3 (up 45 per cent to 1601), X4 (up 83 per cent to 600), X5 (up 13 per cent to 1856) and even the polarising X6 (up 14 per cent to 294).
Growing even faster is nemesis Mercedes-Benz, up almost 170 per cent to 5945 units. To give this figure some context, this cumulative figure is narrowly greater than those managed by Land Rover, Jeep and Kia.
Yes, both BMW and Mercedes-Benz have sold more SUVs than SUV specialist Jeep and mainstream player Kia so far in 2016.
Driving Mercedes-Benz to this growth are the GLA (up 16 per cent to 1377), GLC (a new offering that is now segment leader with 2511), GLS (178 incremental sales), GLE Coupe (392 incremental sales) and the GLE (about 50 per cent ahead of its M-Class predecessor).
We mentioned Land Rover before, but don’t thinking its sales (including Range Rover) are anything resembling sluggish. They too are up, by a lazy 39 per cent, thanks to the Discovery Sport (about 1700 new sales), runout Defender (up 30 per cent to 371), Range Rover Sport (up 14 per cent to 1321) and even the eponymous Range Rover (up 32 per cent to 213).
Japanese luxury player Lexus is also kicking big SUV goals, up 38 per cent to 2344 thanks to the NX (up 52 per cent to 1424), new RX (up 20 per cent to 823) and even the oversized LandCruiser-based LX (up 37 per cent to 97).
Ditto Porsche, up 34 per cent to 1746 units thanks to the Macan (44 per cent to 1076 as supply frees up a touch) and Cayenne (up 22 per cent to 670), as well as Volvo, which has grown its SUV sales by a massive 91 per cent to 1455 on the back of the discounted XC60 (up 65 per cent to 955) and all-new XC90 (up 270 per cent to 424).
All of these figures make the performance of one-time luxury SUV leader Audi seem a little disappointing, given its sales have grown ‘only’ 9.8 per cent to 4111.
But remember, its top-selling Q5 is ageing and not far off replacement, has had some diesel models on stop-sale, and is also beset by slick new rivals such as the GLC. This explains its 34 per cent drop. Furthermore, the Q3 (up 25 per cent to 1706) and all-new Q7 (up 94 per cent to 1255) are going well.