By on July 30, 2018

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport, Image: Nissan

The continent that spawned microscopic postwar bubble cars and made the “city car” segment a thing is moving ever further away from its automotive past. European buyers, perhaps influenced by their American counterparts, are beginning to realize they truly can have it all, adjusting their buying habits accordingly.

Of course, by “all,” we mean all the cargo space.

According to Autocar, the first half of 2018 saw European buyers purchase more utility vehicles than ever before. It helped that Europeans are on a bit of a buying tear — with 8.66 million registrations over the first six months of 2018, the industry grew 2.4 percent compared to the first half of 2017.

Looking closer at the numbers, the growth is all about SUVs. Passenger car sales fell 4 percent in the first half, but SUV sales grew 24 percent. This places the market share of cars at just a hair under 40 percent. Fueling the demand in commodious, high-riding vehicles are a slew of recent model introductions, among them the Volkswagen T-Roc, which Americans cannot have. (We’ll see a right-sized U.S. small crossover in the coming year or so.)

While a post-Dieselgate VW made crossovers and SUVs the centerpiece of its American sales strategy, the same product push is paying off on the Continent. The brand’s utility vehicle sales rose 42 percent in the first half.

Unlike in the U.S., passenger cars still top the sales sheet, but crossovers are making inroads into the upper echelon. Nissan’s Qashqai (Rogue Sport) is Europe’s fifth best-selling vehicle, behind the Volkswagen Golf, Renault Clio, VW Polo, and Ford Fiesta. In seventh place sits the Volkswagen Tiguan, while the Renault Captur crossover places ninth.

Compare this to U.S. sales in the first half of 2018, where six of the top 10 best-selling vehicles were pickups, SUVs, or crossovers. Only the Toyota Camry, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Honda Accord crack that upper rank, in sixth, seventh, eighth, and tenth place, respectively.

This isn’t the only manner in which Europe’s auto landscape is beginning to emulate the States. MPVs, or small minivan-type vehicles, are sinking fast. Sales of that segment sank 23 percent over the first half of the year. Joining the little vans in their death plunge is the increasingly unpopular diesel engine.

European automakers have more or less agreed that diesel, once the majority propulsion source of new cars, should give way to more efficient gasoline engines and electric (or electrified) powertrains. After shrinking by 17 percent compared to the first half of 2017, diesel vehicles accounted for just 37 percent of new vehicle sales this year. At the same time, registrations of alternatively fueled vehicles (AFVs) rose 31 percent. Hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and battery-electric vehicles made up 5.4 percent of new vehicle purchases this year.

Looking at these figures, it’s no wonder Mercedes-Benz took one look at the Nissan Navara pickup and said, “Make us one of those.”

[Image: Nissan]

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33 Comments on “Foreign Influence? Europe Tilts Even Further Into SUV Mania; Diesel Popularity Plummets...”


  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Again, a hatchback or wagon with an extra 3 inches of ground clearance is still a hatchback or wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      you get more usable space in a CUV than a car of the same wheelbase. I was astonished at the legroom and cargo room in Rav4 that has a shorter wheelbase and same length as a Corolla. The flat room does allow some interesting packaging improvements.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        That maybe in that case, but a 2013 Nissan Rogue doe snot have that much more usable space than a 1024 Dodge Avenger. It looks like it on paper but you can’t really stack the suitcases and coolers high in the back and not have them fall onto your passengers and there isn’t really more legroom. If you want to haul a new TV, then yes a crossover has more space.

        For a road trip I will take the sedan every day because it is more comfortable, rides better, gets better mileage, has more power (over 100hp more) and more passenger space and can fit all our luggage in the trunk. We keep one small cooler in the passenger area for water/juice/pop.

        (Legroom on paper is 36.2″ for the Dodge and 35.3″ for the Nissan)

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Good, let Europe slide into the chasm of vapid CUVs. What a horrible space in automotive history, these things are just hideous. I knew the apocalypse was upon us when Porsche et al started making them. A “performance” CUV, lol, it’s like wearing suspenders and a belt. Ugh.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Waaaa! Somebody likes something I don’t like! Stop the world, mommy, I want to get off!

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      A “performance” CUV isn’t so much like wearing suspenders and a belt (things that serve the same purpose) as wearing suspenders with yoga pants (things that have cross purposes).

      • 0 avatar
        Sub-600

        Wearing suspenders and a belt demonstrates that you don’t know what you want or what you’re doing. CUVs don’t handle like cars, they never will. Most CUVs lack a low range, so they aren’t truly utilitarian. Get a sports car or an SUV, don’t claim you’re getting both in a performance crossover, because you’re not. You’re getting a station wagon with a high center of gravity and lots of horsepower.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one. For those of us that want/need a vehicle with compact dimensions and a vehicle with some off-road ability, what else would you suggest?

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    guess its a little wearisome to reading the anti cuv/suv rantings.

    you know, some of us LIKE higher ride height.
    some of us HATE a low profile wheel/tire ride.
    some of us LIKE not having to drop down into and pull up out from our seats every damned time.
    some of us LIKE having a vehicle that CAN sometimes pick up a large box at the Costco without borrowing another’s car.
    some of us LIKE having roof rails available when we take the family long hauls between states. we have stuff…and like to carry it with us.

    there is not a whole lot even at TTac THAT REALLY USE THE HIGH-PERFORMANCE CORNERING ABILITIES OF THEIR SPORTIER CARS…or their X5 Ms.

    ya, there are a few points about these that bother me, like not having a barrier between the passengers and cargo so you can safely carry stuff higher than the rear seat, but this can be addressed aftermarket.

    • 0 avatar
      I_like_stuff

      I will venture a guess that 98.72% of the anti-SUV/CUV/Truck comments come from people with no kids, who live downtown, never go to a Costco and have a teeeenie tiny parking space. And it’s also the people who have the “If I don’t like it, it must be evil” mindset….which funny enough correlates almost directly with the urban DINKs mentioned above.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        THIS, so much this. Don’t forget the “I see pickups on the road NOT TOWING OR HAULING ANYTHING, ergo, nobody needs them and they’re fashion statements, unlike my Lexus”. If you bought a car with more seating/cargo capacity/power/style/content than you ACTUALLY need (so, not a Mirage or a Versa S), why are you judging others because they bought the vehicle they want, just like you did?

        “Well, I like my VW Golf/BMW 3–/Etc. So, someone who’d rather drive a Tahoe/F-150/etc is AN IDIOT! It doesn’t handle as well! It gets bad MPG!”

        So? Maybe they didn’t buy it thinking it was a Miata in a different wrapper. Maybe they DGAF about gas mileage or ease of parking. Their priorities and desires aren’t the same as yours. Its their choice.

        People love to praise diversity and individual freedom, until someone chooses something they didn’t or wouldn’t. “You drive a Durango?! Better get out your smoke-stained Winston Cup jacket and live in fly-over country, loser!” Oh, so he’s not allowed to buy the car he likes because it makes you stereotype him? Screw that.

        If its wrong to judge SOMEone, its wrong to judge ANYone. They made choices different from you? That’s their prerogative. They’re not asking you to pay for the fuel for their F-250, or the payments on their Denali, or the repairs/fuel/initial cost for their AWD vehicle that they “don’t need”, so STFU about it.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          This is funny, I absolutely, positively don’t care in the least what other people drive, why oh why would they care what I drive? I wonder what else about me that’s none of their business they’re interested in

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I don’t care what other people drive.

            I *do* care that what other people prefer is causing the spectacular death of what I like to drive.

            I don’t think it’s unreasonable or “hating” to voice frustration about the direction of the auto market.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Your kidding? Well, as long as don’t blame individuals for a change in market trends I guess I won’t worry about you too much

            Man, screw those people who wanted to sit on the inside. I miss rumble seats

        • 0 avatar
          I_like_stuff

          The diversity crowd also lives in the most un-diverse ‘nabes. Show me a co-ex-ist bumper sticker on a Civic or Prius or Subaru and I will show you a white liberal who other than maybe college, has never had a non-white liberal neighbor.

        • 0 avatar
          ect

          It’s a free country, drive whatever you want. But the phrase “it drives like a truck” is pejorative – for good reason.

        • 0 avatar
          TrailerTrash

          tell the truth, John, I adore minivans and would really love to get the new Pacifica. However, because of where I live and my particular driveway, there is a need for a very short overhang and/or wheelbase or I need a higher clearance.
          If only you could easily raise the clearance of a minivan a few inches.

          because of the angles, my MKS needs two extremely heavy metal sheets expanding a drain so it can be put into the garage…and it is always scrapping on the muffler as i leave and enter the driveway.

          very slanted and angular.

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        I am very solidly in the anti pickup-truck camp. I have access to ample parking, frequent Costco, have 3 kids, live in a suburban area with plenty of space but fairly densly populated.

        I really don’t care about SUV’s, crossovers. Pickups on the other hand, are the scourge of our society. Let me rephrase that, full size pickups are the scourge of our society. I can go on and on all day about why I feel that way, I even have the need to haul things several times per year, but I will never, pay one dime to own a pickup. Never. If I were king of the world, pickups wouldn’t be outlawed, but I would tie vehicle registration very heavily to weight, I would make every full sized truck abide by the posted “Truck” Speed limit. If I am elected, this will happen. I approve this message.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Your position would not be very popular in flyover country. And it’s distressing that you admit you would just as soon see something banned because you personally don’t like it.

          Would you tie “truck” classification to curb weight, or to GVWR? Because there are ways to work around both.

          • 0 avatar
            TwoBelugas

            “If I were king of the world, pickups wouldn’t be outlawed, but I would tie vehicle registration very heavily to weight,”

            It’s so cute when self-proclaimed auto-enthusiasts try to dabble in regulatory fan-fiction.

            Why don’t you:

            (1) go look up the weight of an F150 Crewcab.

            (2) now go look up the weight of a Tesla Model S, arguable the darling of the “new age of cars” crowd

            (3) now look up the Toyota 4Runner, by far the king of “I want a durable family hauler and I never buy domestic”.

            LOL.

          • 0 avatar
            thegamper

            I didn’t say I would ban them. I just said I would reduce the speed limit for vehicles exceeding certain size “limits” and tax cars as they got progressively heavier at registration time. Not trying to make friends with those statements. I see a problem, and a solution. Its a real problem, not just because I am not interested the titanic of the freeways. They are a plague for a variety of reasons. I deeply and truly believe that. Just like you guys believe I am an a$$hole because I don’t agree with you or don’t like something that you do. But I didn’t attack you personally as you guys attacked me, did I? So maybe the above referenced personality flaw is more aptly applied elsewhere, if ya know what I mean.

        • 0 avatar

          @thegamper I am proud of you son. How long it took you to come up with this piece of legislation? Are you thinking about running for the Congress? Because you have to, our country needs people like you.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Some people hate cherry pie. Fine.

          It’s like hating Coca Cola. You’re not alone, but likewise, why do that to yourself, since you’re gonna see pickup trucks absolutely everywhere?

          Maybe pick rhubarb pie or something to hate, then you’re not mad (at yourself) all the frackin’ time.

          Besides, pickup beds are just inverted station wagon backs. Or convertible wagons. What if pickups have a camper shell? Do you have any other irrational hates?

          Wheel barrows?

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        Well, I have two kids and two dogs and live in the country and I still hate CUVs even though I own one so there. :)

        A minivan has so much more room and you sit as high and can tow as much. With a CUV you don’t gain much over a sedan and get worse mileage.

        Oh John, I own a Durango also, but i can tow twice as much and haul twice as much as the Rogue and it isn’t our daily driver. I would get my Cup jacket, but haven’t seen a cup race in years so I never bought one.

        I will admit, I don’t get the crossover thing. You don’t need AWD for 99% of the driving done in a lifetime, and frankly a lot of these are not AWD but look the part, even here in the upper midwest. Winter tires, yes. AWD, no.

        There is my rant for the day.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Can I get an explanation on how modern CUVs solve the low profile tire problem. Most of them come with 20″+ wheels and very low profile tires. Those wheels are also significantly heavier than a 17-18″ wheel and tire combo on a sedan, making the unsprung weight even worse.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        I don’t think most come with low profile tires.
        Perhaps those that wanna be sportier or the more expensive image ones. bit not the larger ones. I don’t think the Atlas, Tiguan, Edge, Pilot, and Toyota or others come with low profile tires.

  • avatar
    stuki

    The Euros have been dutifully following the lead from America since the beginning of mass communications. The timeline of has always been one of initially ridiculing fat, lazy, uncultured Americans for how they behave; then slowly; starting with members of the ambitions upper middle classes on the make, then working its way downwards and up; doing their darndest to emulate the Trumpian fatsos as best they can. Sometimes even overdoing it, to the point of parody.

    “The Yankees have colonized our subconscious.” Bruno said in Kings of the Road.

    • 0 avatar

      I am going to tell you a well kept secret – no matter what they say in public Europeans (and Australians too) envy Americans. They try to dress like Americans, speak like Americans, listen American music, watch American movies, read American books, even eat American fast food (and do not let me start about Japan). The only thing they do not do (but Japanese do) – they cannot play baseball because are not able to figure out rules (like me – after 20 years I still cannot figure out what all these guys are doing on the baseball field).

      And every European country has its own Trump. Let’s start with England, he even looks like Trump…

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    Most Euro SUVs aren’t SUVs as we’d think of them though. They went from driving compact station wagons and hatchbacks, to driving MPVs which are just tall-roof hatchbacks, to now SUVs which are just high-riding compact station wagons, most of which are proudly automotive in style (the Renault is particularly attractive).

    A semi-exception in styling would be the wildly popular Dacia Duster, which is pretty butch for its size, like an old-school Pathfinder.

    Anyway, it’s a bit of a puzzling trend, because the big downside of a compact SUV is that the high-riding profile results in poor highway MPG compared to a similar car, and fuel is expensive there.

  • avatar
    outback_ute

    “Looking at these figures, it’s no wonder Mercedes-Benz took one look at the Nissan Navara pickup and said, “Make us one of those.”

    Does the sales data you have show how many pickups are sold in Europe Steph? I was looking at info from Germany recently, and all I could determine was that there wasn’t a pickup in the top 30 models sold.

  • avatar
    DieselTechForum

    Two opposing trends- demand for larger US style SUVs in Europe and a decline in diesel engine options = recipe for higher CO2 emissions and higher fuel consumption from the car sector.

    For those that are sticking with diesel most – but not all — of the new Euro 6 models are verified to be well within the real driving emissions requirements, (check out the Equa Index) and are still a good choice for drivers.


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