The Small crossover segment has been the hottest segment in Europe for a while now and the end is not in sight as new players continue to broaden the choice for car buyers. In 2015, the segment grew by 46% as more than 1 million small crossovers were sold for the first time ever, which makes it bigger than for example the midsized MPV segment (Renault Scenic, VW Touran etc.). Only one model in the top-15 sees its volume decrease, albeit by a slight 2% and except for one more model, all others are either up by double digits or better, or entirely new to the segment. In this onslaught of increased competition, the top-5 all lose share but none as much as the leader Renault Captur, which loses more 4 percentage points despite improving sales by another 18% to almost 200.000 units. This is an excellent performance from a model which was estimated by Renault itself to sell about 120.000 annual units.
However, the Captur is under threat from the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka, which is up 28% and therefore adds more volume than the Captur (+35.809 vs. +30.046). With a facelifted Mokka on display at the upcoming Geneva Auto Show in March and Renault busy launching the new Scenic, that trend is likely to continue this year, although I expect the French crossover to keep the lead.
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The Peugeot 2008 is not far behind either, in fact it outsold the Mokka in Q4 and is also due to be facelifted this year. The Dacia Duster is the only model in the top-15 to lose volume under the increased competition, and there’s not much news expected for the model anytime soon, so its decline is likely to accelerate in 2016. The segment starter Nissan Juke holds on to its fifth place as Nissan even though the second generation Juke, probably based on the Nissan Kicks concept, is likely to be revealed in Geneva as well for production start at the end of this year.
The Citroën C4 Cactus has become a real success story for the French brand, with almost 80.000 sales in its first full year, proving that it pays for Citroën to design cars that stand out of the crowd and have innovative yet functional features. The Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade duo would combine for a fourth place in the segment for the year and even a second place in Q4, making them the moneymakers for FCA in Europe. The two are especially popular in their home market Italy where they have sold 43,4% of their European volume and are in the overall top-10 (500X) and top-20 (Renegade).
The Suzuki Vitara has had a successful introduction as well, at over 40.000 sales in its introduction year, outselling the Ford EcoSport which has gotten a boost after Ford removed the spare wheel from the rear end and upgraded the interior to a level closer to European standards. The Mazda CX-3 is still ramping up but already closing in on the top-10 in Q4, pulling a gap with the Kia Soul and Honda HR-V. The latter is off to a slow start as Honda appears to have lost its mojo in the European market. Not surprising considering how they’ve neglected the market. In the second half of the year, the SsangYong Tivoli has easily become the best selling model for the South-Korean SUV brand owned by Mahindra&Mahindra of India, although that doesn’t pull it out of niche territory.
The influx of new models to the segment won’t slow down, as 2016 promises another batch of newcomers, as Toyota and Kia are both preparing hybrid crossovers with their C-HR and Niro respectively, Suzuki will revive the Ignis nameplate and Volkswagen Group is working on expanding their crossover line-up across various brands.
Small SUV segment
Citroën C4 Cactus
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