New Zealand new vehicle sales soared to a record last year, led by demand for commercial vehicles.

New vehicle registrations increased 5.4 percent to 134,041 in 2015, surpassing 2014's record 127,179, according to the Lower Hutt-based Motor Industry Association.

Commercial vehicle registrations rose 6.6 percent to set a new annual record of 39,077, with the Ford Ranger the top selling model for the year, marking the first time a commercial vehicle has outsold a passenger model.

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Demand for commercial vehicles such as utes, which are popular with tradespeople and farmers, has increased as interior fit-outs have become more car-like, prompting many people to use them for business and private purposes, the MIA says.

Meanwhile, annual passenger vehicle registrations increased 4.9 percent to 94,964.
Japanese car maker Toyota was the top selling brand for the 28th consecutive year, with a 20 percent market share. Its Toyota Corolla was the top selling passenger model for the year.

SUVs continued to dominate the local market, accounting for about a third of total sales, the MIA said.

The MIA expects sales to slow this year in line with a weaker economy.