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SUV-B segment to drive crossover growth in Europe

29 January 2018 Tim Urquhart, B.A.

IHS Markit perspective

  • Implications: The IHS Markit forecast shows that SUVs and crossovers will continue to erode the share of other vehicle types towards the end of this decade and the start of the next.
  • Outlook: Our current forecast shows that SUV models are set to rise from 11.8% in 2010 to 40.0% by 2022, with SUV-B and SUV-C making up the vast majority of the headline sales figures.

It is a well-established fact that sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and crossovers have been the growth driver of the European passenger car market over the past decade. Just walk down a street in any major Western European city and it is easy to see the impact especially that compact (SUV-C) and sub-compact (SUV-B) crossovers and SUVs have had in changing the segment demographics in Western Europe over the last 10 years. The trend was arguably started in terms of the accelerated growth in these two vehicle categories by Nissan, first with the first generation of its SUV-C Nissan, the Qashqai, in 2007. It was followed by the SUV-B Juke in 2010 which helped define and start the development of the hitherto almost nonexistent SUV-B segment. Between 2010 and 2016 (2017 sales data is yet to be fully actualised and remains forecast) SUV-B sales rose from 134,000 units to 1.13 million units, with this number forecast to hit nearly 2 million units by 2022. These car-based crossovers are cheap to buy and run and offer the lifestyle styling and higher seating position that customers increasingly want.

Between 2010 and 2022 SUV-C sales are forecast to triple on a market that will see a low single-digit compound rise during that period. On a combined basis SUV-B and SUV-C sales accounted for a sales figure of 1,094,290 units or just 8.2% of the overall share of the EU28 passenger car market in 2010. This combined sales figure for the SUV-B and SUV-C segments had grown to by almost three times to 3,075,014 units by 2016, the last actualised sales data, which equated to a figure of 21.3% of the overall market. This was fuelled by a significant number of new additions to the SUV-B market in particular and simply the shift in the market from consumers wanting more lifestyle orientated vehicles. By 2022 IHS Markit is forecasting that SUV-B and SUV-C sales will have risen to a combined figure of 4,752,509 units which will equate to just under one-third of the overall passenger car market. From our actualised sales data and forecast data we can see that on a combined basis SUVs/crossovers (including SUV-D and usually premium SUV-E models) occupied just 11.8% y/y of the EU passenger car market in 2010. This rose to a forecast share 26.3% share in 2016, with our forecast rising to SUVs and crossovers having a 40% share of the market by 2022.

Outlook and implications

The rise of the SUV and crossover in Western Europe over the past decade is the story of the market, but the compact and sub-compact section of the market is where the change has been most pronounced. The SUV-B segment barely existed in any meaningful way at the start of this decade. In fact, in 2010 Suzuki accounted for around half the segment's overall sales; the SX4 was the market leader at that time with a mere 34,000 units. There were just eight models on sale. In contrast, by 2016 there were at least 14 nameplates selling over 10,000 units; the Renault Captur was the market leader with 216,000 units, and the top-four selling models sold over 100,000 units each. The Captur was followed in the sales list by the Peugeot 2008, Opel Mokka and Fiat 500x. These models are all based on the same architecture as their sister B-segment passenger car models with the exception of the Mokka. They can share major components systems, such as HVAC and infotainment as well as offering the same or similar powertrain options. They are therefore relatively cheap to develop while OEMs can charge more for them than their equivalent passenger car equivalents. Customers increasingly want the elevated driving position (which has some practical benefits such as a slightly increased field of vision and being easier to get in and out of the vehicle). As a result, further additions to the SUV-B market in Europe are expected. In 2018 we will have the new Hyundai Kona and its sister model the Kia Stonic, the DS3 Aircross and the much-awaited and anticipated VW T-Roc. The segments that will lose out as a result of the inexorable growth of SUV-B will be traditional B-Car and C-Car hatchbacks, while apart from stalwarts such as the Renault Scenic, the MPV-C market has now almost collapsed in Europe as a result of the growth in the SUV-B and SUV-C segments.

About this article

The above article is from AutoIntelligence Daily by IHS Markit. AutoIntelligence Daily provides same-day analysis of automotive news, events and trends. Get a free trial.

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