Strong sales of its diesel-powered Sportage and Sorento SUVs have helped Korean car maker Kia to record a 241 percent sales increase in New Zealand in the first quarter of 2006.
Kia sold 651 vehicles between January and March 31, compared to 148 during the same period of 2005.
Kia has also moved into the top-10 selling vehicles in NZ, ahead of Volkswagen and Subaru. Last year it was the 13th best-selling brand locally.
The Kia Sportage and Sorento account for 7.2 percent of all SUV sales in New Zealand so far this year, with diesel models making up an increasingly large proportion.
The newly-introduced Picanto hatchback has taken three percent of the micro car market since it went on sale at the start of March.
Kia Motors NZ general manager John Keenan says he believes New Zealand is starting to follow Europe, where smaller economical cars and diesels have been more popular for some time because of high fuel prices,
He says the micro car segment in NZ now accounts for 11 perrcent of new car sales (up from 9.9 percebt in the first quarter of 2005) and the Small cars have risen to a 28.4 percent market share (up from 24.6 percent).