By PETER CATON
NEARLY a quarter of all new cars being sold in the Tweed are four-wheeldrives and the number is growing.
That's despite increasing concern from some other drivers about their presence on, rather than off, the road.
And the new four-wheeldrive owners are fiercely proud of their choice of vehicle, which many like Dan Andrew of Tweed Heads say they bought for a purely practical reason such as towing.
RTA figures show that 400 of the 1807 new passenger vehicles registered in Tweed Shire last year were so-called "off-road passenger vehicles".
That was similar to the proportion in 2002 but significantly up on 2001 when less than one in five new cars was an off-roader 267 out of 1352.
All up, four-wheel-drives account for 10.7 per cent of passenger cars registered in the Tweed slightly up on the State average of 10.1 per cent.
"There's a lot of them on the road because people use them for caravan towing and boat towing. And boat sales have gone up," said Mr Andrew who works for Tweed Coast Marine, opposite Tweed City shopping centre in South Tweed Heads.
Yesterday Mr Andrew was using his one-year-old diesel Toyota Landcruiser to tow a $124,000 Larson Sports Cruiser away from the boat ramp in Pascoe Park off Kennedy Drive after a test run.
He said all his fellow workers at Tweed Coast Marine had opted for Landcruisers for towing and he regarded his choice of vehicle as "excellent" for its intended purpose.
But Mr Mr Andrew did concede a "few people" who bought four wheel drive owners might not need them.
Earlier this week it was reported that an insurance company survey found 60 per cent of 4WD owners live in city areas and only 25 per cent bought for offroad exploring.
The survey of 1,880 people by insurance company AAMI in all parts of Australia other than WA and the Northern Territory found 46 per cent of drivers believed their four-
wheel-drive counterparts were more aggressive on the road. The survey also found that 48 per cent believe that four-wheel-drives do not belong in city areas and 17 per cent of fourwheel-drive motorists agreed.