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Luxury SUV growth out-paces mainstream

06 October 2021 Tom Libby

Consumer affinity for the sport-utility concept continues to grow, with retail SUV market share climbing to 56% in the second quarter of 2021. What doesn't get much visibility, but is perhaps more amazing, is that this metric reached 70% for the eighteen luxury brands in the same time period (the corresponding metric for mainstream brands is 54%).

In the past six years, SUV share of the retail new luxury vehicle market has risen 24 percentage points, compared to a 15 percentage point increase among the 19 mainstream brands. Part of this growth in the luxury SUV space is attributable to the fact that there are no luxury pickups, driving up the shares of the remaining luxury body styles.

SUV growth industry-wide has come at the expense of both sedans and the combined group of coupes, convertibles, and hatchbacks, but the declines for both groups have been greater in the luxury space. Luxury sedan market share has dropped more than 17 percentage points to 23.3%, while mainstream sedan share has declined 14.9 percentage points to 17.8%. For the aggregated three lower-volume body styles, luxury share has declined 6.6 percentage points while mainstream has dropped 4 points.

This decline in popularity of coupes, convertibles, and hatchbacks among luxury brands gives the impression that the sporty vehicle concept is disappearing, but this is not the case. As the sport-utility concept has gained favor, product planners and designers have combined this style with a sporty, fastback-like silhouette frequently referred to as "sportback." In the first seven months of 2021, 40 (14%) of the 290 luxury SUVs on the market have this more sporty, fastback-like design, and they account for 4.3% of all retail luxury SUV deliveries.


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