With an increase of 5%, the large MPV segment in Europe has rebounded slightly in 2014 from its record low a year earlier when sales plunged by 17%, but that still makes it the second-worst year in more than two decades.
The ranking remains stable, with the Volkwagen Sharan and Ford S-Max increasing their share of the segment to over half of all sales in the segment, with the biggest winner in third place, as the Seat Alhambra adds 18% to last year’s volume. With the Ford Galaxy in fourth place, the VW Group and Ford take almost 87,5% of large MPV sales in the continent.
The new generation of the sporty S-Max is ready to hit European dealerships in the second quarter of 2015, followed by the functional and spacious Galaxy by the end of the year, so Ford is likely to steal VW’s crown as MPV best seller over the next 12 months.
But Renault has an ace up its sleeve as well, as it has decided to take a different approach to the segment it helped create almost 35 years ago. Deliveries of the new fifth generation Espace will start in the first quarter and Renault design chief Laurens Van den Acker has drawn a crossover-like shape, losing some of the functionality in favor of better looks. Luring customers looking for a stylish non-MPV, the Espace may lose some potential customers in need for 7 full-sized seats. Although it will be available with an optional third row of seats, I believe the new Grand Scenic, due in 2016, will offer more space than the Espace. Both vehicles will be based on the same platform anyways, and considering the S-Max has consistently outsold the Galaxy, Renault may have a point here.
Sales of the outgoing Espace, which has been on the market since 2003, have dropped to an all-time low at under 7.000 units, almost a tenth of a decade earlier. 2015 will prove an interesting year with a battle between the two newcomers Espace and S-Max for first place, which will help the overall segment increase for a second consecutive year, which would be the first time since 2003.
PSA hasn’t announced any decision on the succession plans for the Peugeot 807 and Citroën C8, after ending production in the second half of 2014.
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