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Why the SUV boom will 'never' end

Australians have bought almost 200,000 SUVs in the first six months of 2015.

We know most 4WDs never leave the tarmac, let alone navigate a gravel driveway. So what's driving our infatuation with SUVs?

Are you sick and tired of being stuck behind an SUV in traffic?

Are you horrified these soccer mum cars now represent more than one in three of all new passenger vehicles sold?

You may need to lie down after reading this. It turns out for many of us, if we can't beat em, we're joining em.

The global boom in SUV sales will "never" end, said the head of research and development at one of the world's biggest car makers.

We bought 170,000 SUVs in a full year in 2006 and almost 200,000 in the first six months of 2015

This is a significant advance on the predictions from other industry heavyweights who believe SUV demand may plateau by about 2020.

With sales in Australia more than doubling in the past 10 years -- we bought 170,000 SUVs in a full year in 2006 and almost 200,000 in the first six months of 2015 -- News Corp asked the person in charge of future vehicles at Mercedes-Benz when SUV sales might subside.

"Never. Why should it?" said Thomas Weber at the launch of Mercedes' new mid-size SUV in Germany this week, the GLC, ahead of its Australian arrival later this year.

"One critical argument in the past was always fuel consumption...these old fashioned guys thought it was not possible to carry your kids to kindergarten (in an) SUV. It doesn't make sense in the city."

But, Weber says, new advancements in fuel economy have all but removed one of the big arguments against SUVs. Plus they have gotten smaller in recent years, often filling the same size parking space as a small car.

"The biggest trend around the globe is the trend to SUVs. Why? Higher seating position, more freedom, independence from tough road conditions (and) in the meantime with technology we can overcome this topic (of fuel consumption)."

SUVs aren't boring, they're a getaway car

Weber admits few SUV drivers ever leave the tarmac but he insists buyers like knowing they have the ability to, should the need arise.

He said it was the same reason performance car buyers bought fast cars "that can do 250km/h".

"They may not ever go to 250km/h but they like to know the car can do it," says Weber, who added that the popularity of SUVs was also driven by "image". "SUVs aren't boring, they're a getaway car," he says.

There is just one catch to all of this. Mercedes-Benz is one of the last car-makers with a medium-size SUV for the global market.

A decade ago it decided to build one, but only in left-hand-drive, and so countries such as Japan, the UK and Australia missed out.

When asked why Mercedes-Benz didn't see the global SUV sales boom earlier, Weber admitted "it was a mistake".

"This mistake was 10 years ago, we didn't believe there was such a huge demand, nobody expected it," says Weber. "But now we realise this mistake and have many models coming."