The Motor Industry Association is forecasting a 9 per cent growth in new vehicle sales this year, led largely by demand for passenger cars and lightweight commercials.
"The logical explanation for this is the shortage of stock last year," said the association's CEO, Perry Kerr.
"We expect there will be also a small increase in sales of SUVs."
The projected growth will mean sales this year of about 90,000 passenger cars and commercials, up roughly 9000 on last year.
The New Zealand-new vehicle market rose 5.2 per cent last year, despite natural disasters in Japan and Thailand disrupting supply for some months.
Passenger car sales were up 3.2 per cent and commercials 11.9 per cent. The results met forecasted gains made by industry analysts 12 months ago.
Registrations last year totalled 84,640 units - 81,638 passenger cars and light commercials (under 3.5 tonnes) and 3002 heavy commercials (camper vans, for example, over 3.5 tonnes).
Light vehicle sales comprised 44,815 passenger cars, 18,656 SUVs and 18,167 commercials.
"This was an outstanding result," said Kerr.
"Last year was a year of significant challenges for the industry.
"The natural disasters, locally and overseas, coupled with a subdued economic environment and the Rugby World Cup, which took customers away from showrooms, meant it was always going to be a tough year."
Toyota was No1 with 17,534 registrations, almost 3 per cent down on 2010 sales, but still with more than 20 per cent of the market.
Ford finished second with 8656 registrations (10.2 per cent) and Holden third with 8052 (9.5 per cent). The best-selling car was the Toyota Corolla (4166) followed by the Suzuki Swift (2892) and the Holden Commodore (2381).