By on March 7, 2013

An invasive species originating in North America is threatening the native fauna of Europe in a big way. Small crossovers, largely based on B and C segment hatchbacks, are one of the few growth segments in Europe’s ailing auto industry, so much so that they could even help reverse the fortunes of a couple ailing auto makers.

Peugeot and Renault, two car makers that have struggled in recent years, are expected to post big sales volumes of their upcoming small crossovers. One forecasting house predicts that the Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008 will even bump the current segment leader, the Nissan Juke, down to third place. Meanwhile, Ford is counting on the upcoming EcoSport for both volume and margin, thanks to its assembly in India.

By 2016, the segment is set to grow to 550,000 vehicles, up from just under 300,000 in 2012. The vehicles will be very profitable for auto makers, as they can charge a $3,900 premium on average for a car that uses the same basic B or C segment underpinnings. Furthermore, traditional market leaders like VW, Toyota, Honda and Hyundai are largely devoid of any product in these segments, giving PSA, Renault, Ford and even GM a wide berth to capture market share in this segment.

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26 Comments on “Small SUVs The Lone Bright Spot In Europe...”


  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    “…traditional market leaders like VW, Toyota, Honda and Hyundai…”

    The only “traditional market leader” on your list is VW. Toyota and Honda are not nearly as big in Europe as they are in North America, and Hyundai, while growing rapidly, can hardly be considered a “traditional market leader”.

    I would guess that the “traditional market leaders” in Europe are VW, Ford, and GM.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      And Fiat.

      VW does offer the C-segment Tiguan, and in the B-segment the CrossPolo, which is even smaller than the Mokka.

      • 0 avatar

        And Fiat has always had the semi-SUV Panda 4×4. Not to mention the soon coming 500X and mini-Jeep.

      • 0 avatar
        fabriced28

        The CrossPolo is nothing. Plastic bits added to a Polo, and nobody cares about it (nor buys it).
        Today this segment is literally the Juke. Tomorrow, Captur, 2008 and Mokka. I don’t believe in the EcoSport as it looks like a 2010 model. In 2014, the 500X. VW always tests the market with plastic bits (Audi Allroad before the Q7, Skoda Scout before the Yeti, all the VW Cross____ before the Tiguan). Now they’re doing it again with the Crossup but it seems they’ll be absent of the new segment for a while. Which is, as the article stated, a very lucky opportunity for all second fiddles, and they did not miss it!

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    this is the way of the world (outside of north america)

    toy SUVs are a popular growth sector… moreso small FWD SUVs

    people want the impression they can escape from it all

    Hyundia has the ix35 and Kia has the Sportage… Mazda has the CX5 but none have something as small as the Nissan Qashqai but I think a whole slew of sub C segment grade SUVs will be coming soon…

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Opel Mokka and Audi Q3 as small as the Qashqai. VW Tiguan, BMW X1 and Ford Kuga (Escape) are just a bit bigger.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Not only does Hyundai have the ix35 (Tucson) and Kia, the Sportage, the next gen Soul is rumored to get available AWD.

      The Nissan Qashqai (about the same size as the ix35 and Sportage) is actually then bigger seller than the Juke.

      But there is plenty of room to grow when it comes to the subcompact/compact CUV market in Europe (these are all pretty much CUVs as opposed to SUVs), esp. for something along the size of the Juke as there hasn’t been as much competition.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      With the right Ford you can Escape from it all :)

  • avatar
    bziko98

    My cousin that lives in Germany called me last year when she was looking for a new car. She wanted to know my opinion on Nissan Qashqai. I asked her if she would consider a regular wagon instead for better fuel economy and handling. She said they were only looking at small suvs because they wanted the higher seating position and a premium look…

  • avatar
    spreadsheet monkey

    Europeans prefer crossovers/CUVs to wagons for the same reasons Americans prefer them. Wagons are just seen as unfashionable, however practical they are.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      I don’t think so. Have you been to Germany recently? It certainly seems that there are more wagons on the road than there are three-box sedans, and few people are embarrassed to drive them.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Wagons In Europe are popular with corporate buyers as they are more utilitarian than sedans, but more fuel efficient than CUVs.

        However, among individual buyers – CUVs are becoming more popular among Europeans for much of the same reasons that have become popular here.

    • 0 avatar

      The so-called “practicality” of wagons is greatly exaggerated, and more people see it by the day. That’s all there is to it.

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        “That’s all there is to it.”

        Well, you’re the lean guy with the rifle, Boss.

        • 0 avatar
          TonyJZX

          I see things differently for my uses.

          I admit older folks like CUVs for the seating position.

          However as far as practicality goes, you’re trading the relative width of wagons for the relative height of CUVs.

          The ground clearance is one thing.

          The ‘handing’ isnt really a big deal either.

          I think the MPG difference is there but isnt a big deal.

          I’d say again, the Duster would cleanup in the English speaking western world.

    • 0 avatar
      slance66

      I don’t think being fashionable has much to do with it. Most people I know who have ever climbed into a small SUV height vehicle never want to contort themselves to get into a European sedan or wagon height vehicle again. Handling is a nice trait, but adding a couple of inches of ground clearance makes little difference in handling for most people, and visibility improves. Volvo didn’t kill the V70 in the US for being unfashionable, it was simply inferior to the XC70 in the eyes of 90% of would be owners.

      • 0 avatar
        Gottleib

        I think you are right. The post WWII generation and their offspring are now of an age where bending down to enter a car and straining to get out of car has become unacceptable.

        In fact I consider some of the popularity of the SUV style to be a return to a car with the same height as those made in the 1950s. The low slung seating position while sporty is just not as practical on a day to day basis.

  • avatar

    What have I been saying on the recent EcoSport, Cherokee articles? Thanks Derek.

    • 0 avatar

      Marcelo, you need to do another article on the general trend. Having family in Central America, I understand the rough roads that come with poorly maintained infrastructure, and the extra suspension travel helps smooth out the ride. I know one of my cousins switched to a BMW X5 after years of BOF SUVs (which were selected mostly because that’s what the armoring companies tended to have in stock).

  • avatar
    k9H20

    I wonder if the rise of compact SUVs has anything to do with the deterioration of roads due to broke governments and municipalities. I definitely prefer the floaty feel of my wife’s CUV to my compact car over the crap roads where I live.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Excellent point. The roads are so bad here in San Diego that I’d be worried about getting complacent driving something that floats too serenely. The ‘dips’ at intersections are more like slightly rounded off trenches. I rearranged the nose of a Lincoln Town Car by going through an unlabeled one at about 25 mph, causing the car to porpoise so violently that the interior received a Diet Coke volcanic shower. With traffic so bottled up by conscious efforts of the government and unmaintained roads, a CUV becomes the perfect commuter car. It isn’t like there are opportunities to use the performance of a sports car, and the roads have a way of ruining the underbody aerodynamic doohickeys of the fuel economy specials.

  • avatar

    Shame the Captur has to be a Clio on stilts in order to sell. The new Clio looks so good, as does the Clio wagon. Very, very nice. Shame they’re so expensive that the Dacia range will outsell it. If Renault could figure out how to lower the Clio’s initial price, or put some of its interior and exterior goodness on to the Dacia, then we’d really be talking. As is the Captur will outsell the wagon, though for reasons of costs it probably won’t outsell the Clio hatch. But maybe it’ll sell some Clios for them.

    BTW, love that Alpine blue. Almost got a Clio in that color (or something very similar to it). Somebody got it first and I had to settle with another car.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      Marcelo, as good as it may be, Renault can’t cover all the bases with the Duster. There are customers that want a nicer car and will pay extra for that. And that’s alright.

      Not having a product for them would cripple their growth, that’s less sales, money, scale, jobs, pictures from BS of CG gesturing, etc…

      The number of sales will depend on how many markets is sold. And on that race, the Dacia is several “cars” ahead. No need to worry about that either.

      • 0 avatar

        Hola Athos! I’m not saying it can either. All I’m saying is that the Renaults appeal to the imagination and the Dacia mainly to your wallet. Maybe some of the more emotional aspects of Renault’s new design could pass on to the Dacia. I also worry that the Captur sucess will somehow permit Renault to lose focus on the Clio, like not doing hot Clios and such. That’d be a shame.

  • avatar
    darex

    I though the Renault Captur was just a Nissan Juke reskinned? If so, it’ll be a win-win for Nissan-Renault.


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