Boom in Sales Shows SUVs Becoming Major Automotive Trend
Sales of SUVs have quadrupled in Europe since 2005 and are expected to keep rising thanks to growing popularity with an unusually diverse group of buyers, according to a new survey.
Once the choice of a select few ski buffs and outdoor enthusiasts, SUVs have been embraced by “Modern Mums,” mothers with young kids, Millennials, 17- to 34-years-olds, and “Quintastics,” for active and youthful 50-somethings.
Nearly one in three “Modern Mums” are considering an SUV for their next car, as are one in four Millennials; and one in five “Quintastics,” according to a new Ford-sponsored survey of 5,000 people in the U.K, France, Germany, Italy and Spain who own a car or who intend to buy one in the next 12 months.
“SUVs have grown from a tiny niche in Europe to one of the most significant automotive trends of the past decade,” said Roelant de Waard, Ford’s vice president of marketing in Europe. “Every time someone predicts SUV sales will cool down, they are proven wrong. That’s because SUVs have widespread appeal with men and women, young and older people.”
The survey highlighted that perceptions of SUVs have changed dramatically. Of those surveyed, 82 per cent say that SUVs are no longer just a luxury vehicle, and have become more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly over the past five years. Nearly all recognize that SUVs are now available in a wide variety of sizes and options.
“We predict sales of 200,000 Ford SUVs in Europe this year – up by 200 per cent from 2013 – with 60,000 expected to sell in the UK,” de Waard said.
The percentage of SUVs sold in Europe compared with total car sales has grown from 6 per cent in 2005 to 23 per cent in 2015. This is expected to increase to 27 per cent by 2020, according to industry sales analyst IHS.
The survey shows that recognised SUV strengths are becoming increasingly important to car buyers. Of those surveyed, 82 per cent say keeping their family safe has become more important, and 52 per cent identify this feature most with SUVs. Further, 78 per cent say performing well in bad weather has become more important, and 57 per cent identify this feature chiefly with SUVs.
As well as practical considerations, style is also a high priority for “Modern Mums”. For 56 per cent, great looks and style had become more important, a feature that 48 per cent associated most with SUVs.
For Millennials, meanwhile, the SUV is a symbol of success. For 47 per cent, for example, driving a car that they want to be seen in has become more important over the past few years, a feature that 37 per cent most associated with SUVs. And for 36 per cent, driving a car that makes them feel powerful is becoming increasingly popular, a feature that 45 per cent link mostly to SUVs.
Psychological factors also play a role in the appeal of SUVs to “Quintastics”. A high driving position, for instance, has become more important for 81 per cent of those aged 50-59, with 65 per cent associating that feature predominantly with SUVs.
“For all kinds of people the SUV works because it offers a one-stop solution, just like a smartphone that also can be a camera, media player, and torch. An SUV can offer a capable approach to weekend adventures and a stylish and practical school-run option, with great visibility when pulling up to the kerb,” de Waard said.
Across Europe the survey revealed that Brits (28 per cent) were second placed to Italians (31 per cent) as most likely to consider an SUV as their next car.