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-year-olds; and “Quintastics”, a media buzzword 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 Motor Company-sponsored survey of 5,000 people in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, 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, vice president of marketing, sales and service with Ford of 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 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.
“Our range of three SUVs, with the upscale all-new Edge, arriving in dealerships across Europe now to complement our mid-sized Kuga and compact EcoSport, offers a wide variety of personal choice,” de Waard said. “We predict sales of 200,000 Ford SUVs in Europe this year, up by 200 per cent from 2013.”
The percentage of SUVs sold in Europe compared with total car sales has grown from six 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 most with SUVs.
Practical considerations are a high priority for “Modern Mums”, as is style: Over the last few years, a car that keeps their family safe has become more important for 91 per cent, with 59 per cent associating this feature most with SUVs.
For more than 80 per cent, good performance in bad weather, and on bad roads, has become more important, a feature that 63 per cent associate most with SUVs
For 56 per cent, great looks and style had become more important, a feature that 48 per cent associated most with SUVs,
For Millennials, the SUV is a symbol of success: for 47 per cent, 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.
For 45 per cent, driving a car that is sexy has become more important over the past few years, a feature that 35 per cent most associated with SUVs.
And for 36 per cent, driving a car that makes them feel powerful has become more important over the past few years, a feature that 45 per cent most associated with SUVs.
Those in their fifties are now increasingly likely to continue to follow active pursuits, and the key attributes “Quintastics” associate with a modern SUV have become more important.
Over the last few years, a high driving position has become more important for 81 per cent of those aged 50-59, with 65 per cent associating that feature most with SUVs.
For 63 per cent, getting where they want to go – in the city or the country - has become more important, a feature that 54 per cent associate with SUVs.
For 44 per cent, a car that supports an active lifestyle has become more important, a feature that 44 per cent also associate most 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 those in Italy (31 per cent ) and the UK (28 per cent ) are the most likely to be considering an SUV as their next car.