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Fuel efficiency over flash: the truth about Kiwi drivers

Fuel efficiency over flash: the truth about Kiwi drivers

There are currently 2,951,000 drivers aged 18+ on New Zealand’s roads, and most of them (77%) believe that fuel efficiency is more important than high performance in a vehicle. The same percentage will only buy a car with a proven track record, while 73% would only consider buying a car if it was manufactured by a well-known brand.

And these sensible automotive attitudes don’t stop there, either, as the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research reveal: 70% of Kiwi drivers spend a lot of time researching their options before choosing which car to buy, and a very pragmatic 66% regard their car simply as transport from A to B. What would Bruce McLaren have thought?

Top five automotive attitudes among Kiwi motorists

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), October 2012 – September 2013 (n = 10,424).

Kia and BMW: a tale of two makes

However, the plot thickens when we compare automotive opinions between drivers of different makes. Take Kia and BMW, for example. For Kiwi Kia drivers, fuel efficiency is paramount, with 91% of them considering it more important than high performance. Only 55% of their BMW-driving compatriots agree with them – the lowest proportion of drivers of any of the 14 makes featured in the chart below.

Attitude to fuel efficiency by make of car driven/


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), October 2012 – September 2013 (n = 10,424).

BMW drivers tend to put a higher value on reliability, with 82% of them agreeing that they’ll ‘only buy a car with a proven track record’ (compared to 75% of Kia drivers). Indeed, three quarters of them will ‘usually only consider a car by a major manufacturer because they don’t want to take the risk of a lesser known make’. Kia drivers are far less worried about this, with just 54% of them feeling the same way.

Perhaps the greatest difference between Kia and BMW drivers is their respective attitudes towards automotive aesthetics and fun. While 72% of Kia drivers regard their car ‘simply as transport from A to B’, that figure drops to 50% of BMW drivers. No real surprises, then, that 40% of Kia drivers ‘don’t care what a car looks like as long as it’s reliable’ (compared to 25% of BMW drivers) or that only 10% ‘would like a car that handles like a racing car’ (compared to 41% of BMW drivers).

Hot Wheels

Overall, New Zealand’s motoring population places a very low priority on driving ‘a car that has lots of sex appeal’, with a mere 10% naming this as a preference. Kia drivers rank below the national average for this attitude (8%), while at almost three times the national average (27%) BMW drivers aren’t quite so modest!

Pip Elliott, General Manager, Roy Morgan Research NZ, says:

“It’s vital for automotive manufacturers and dealers to understand motorists’ attitudes towards and priorities regarding their current cars and the kind of cars they’d consider buying. While the importance of fuel efficiency is something most Kiwi drivers agree with, how strongly they feel about it tends to vary depending on the make of their current vehicle.

“For example, nine out of 10 Kia drivers insist on fuel efficiency, whereas for the majority of BMW drivers, reliability and a good track record are more important.

“Agencies responsible for automotive advertising and marketing communications need to bear in mind not only the general motoring population’s common-sense preferences for fuel efficiency and reliability, but also the more aesthetic and ‘emotional’ responses evoked by some makes.”

Contact Profile

Roy Morgan Research
Roy Morgan Research is Australia’s best known and longest established market research and public opinion survey company. Roy Morgan Single Source is thorough, accurate, and provides comprehensive, directly applicable information about current and future customers. It is unique in that it directs all the questions to each individual from a base survey sample of around 55,000 interviews in Australia and 15,000 interviews in New Zealand annually - the largest Single Source databases in the world. The questions asked relate to lifestyle and attitudes, media consumption habits (including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, cinema, catalogues, pay TV and the Internet), brand and product usage, purchase intentions, retail visitations, service provider preferences, financial information and recreation and leisure activities. This lead product is supported by a nationally networked, consultancy-orientated market research capability.

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