Europeans love hatchbacks, right?
As sedans of all sizes, mainstream and luxury, continue to fall in North America in favor of crossover SUVs, Automotive News Europe is reporting this very same trend is happening overseas as well. Sales of small SUVs in 2018 are set to hit a new record in Europe, although it’s not sedans that’ll suffer but rather hatchbacks. Remember, Europeans have long favored hatchbacks while Americans prefer sedans, and yet small SUVs are becoming more popular than both.
Automotive analyst firm LMC Automotive believes an additional 400,000 sales of small SUVs will be added to last year’s total of 1.4 million. This can be attributed to new offerings from Volkswagen, Citroen and Opel/Vauxhall. In the first few months of 2018, Volkswagen launched its new T-Roc, while both the Citroen C3 Aircross and Opel/Vauxhall Crossland X went on sale. Each vehicle sold more than 25,000 units in the first quarter of this year. "The market has skyrocketed," said Ponz Pandikuthira, head of product planning for Nissan Europe. "We are projecting for the next four years it will grow like crazy, about 40 percent up, with all kinds of nameplates coming in.”
Not only do these small crossover SUVs offer the same utility as five-door hatchbacks, but they add a higher seating position and a more youthful attitude. It’s simply a winning combination. All major European automakers, specifically Citroen, Peugeot, Opel/Vauxhall, Seat and Skoda, none of which are sold in the US. However, the Nissan Juke, once one of the segment’s best-sellers in Europe, is experiencing a sales decline due to its age and the arrival of new contenders. Nissan says a new Juke is set to arrive in the near future. Hyundai and Kia both offer small SUVs of their own, the Kona and Stonic, respectively.
Both are already successful and yet it’s very likely a second version of each one will debut in 2019 to further capitalize on the segment’s popularity. For years, automakers were trying to figure out how to transfer the popularity of the hatchback from Europe to North America. Turns out the answer was pretty easy – simply jack up the ride height a bit and add a more SUV-like body. Ironically, Europeans now favor that formula over traditional hatchbacks. Hey, whatever works.