Get your mobile mansion now before the golden era of SUVs is over.
The Roman Empire was once a shining monument to just how much humans could achieve by creating a well-organized society. And then like the Titanic, a seemingly unsinkable society collapsed in ruins. According to Peugeot CEO Maxime Picat, this is exactly where the SUV segment is headed. Right now SUVs account for 23% of all European auto sales and make up 35% of US sales. Industry analysts predict that by 2020 SUVs will be the body style of choice for 50% of all new car buyers. So why does Picat think this trend will soon go bust?
The reason is lack of autonomy, fuel consumption, and a growing dissatisfaction with the design of larger cars. Picat thinks that given the dimensions of SUVs designers have less freedom to create unique designs, explaining why many SUVs look alike. He also thinks that with increasing constraints on fuel consumption, regulations will be the hand of change that will kill off the SUV. Additionally, the Peugeot CEO thinks that an increasing number of customers dissatisfied with sedans, SUVs, and wagons are looking to spend their dollars on other types of cars. Given the success of Mercedes’ new chopped and screwed remixes on the SUVs as exemplified by the GLE and the GLA, he may have a point.
The German automaker’s attempts to redefine the SUV segment may not end up creating a new evolutionary lineage, but they at least show automakers that the public wants something else. It’s tough being an automaker. Not only do these giants need to understand the times and set trends accordingly, but each one needs to foresee the birth and death of certain segments and be ready to adjust on the fly. For now Picat’s speculations are just that: speculation. Wrong or right, the fall of the Roman Empire was foreseen by few and experienced by all. For now there’s no telling where the segment will go. But if Picat is right, get ready for an awkward transition phase in automobile design.