Sales of large MPVs are booming thanks to an infusion of fresh products into the segment. In the first half of 2016, sales are up 59% compared to the same period in 2015, as not only the three newcomers gain impressive volume, but also 2 out of the 3 existing models. Ford is the king of the segment with a share of 39,3% for its two models, both redesigned in the past year. The Ford S-Max is the segment leader with triple the sales of its previous generation, but the already six-year old Volkswagen Sharan was just 1.000 units behind the S-Max in Q2 and jumped from #4 in Q1 to #2 for the first half, leapfrogging the all-new Renault Espace. This must be a disappointment for Renault, as the brand is on a good roll in Europe with its latest models and the new design language, and it surely must have hoped the fifth generation Espace could take back the lead in the segment it created 35 years ago in Europe. In Q2 it was even outsold by the Seat Alhambra, the Sharan’s clone.
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One could argue that Renault is missing out because it sacrificed practicality for style, as the Espace really doesn’t fit adults on the third row, but that would contradict the success of the S-Max over the Galaxy, which proves that there’s more demand for a sporty MPV than for a boxy one. But in fact Germany is the key to the ranking in this segment: the S-Max and Sharan both sold around 7.500 units in Europe’s largest market, while the Espace, being a large French car and therefore a hard sell in Germany, sold just 1.500 units there, which is exactly the gap that separates the Espace from the #1 place in the segment. Besides that, missing the UK market is a big drawback as well for the Espace, as it is for the Talisman in the midsized car segment. The UK accounts for about 20% of combined S-Max and Galaxy sales, whereas the Espace is not available in right-hand drive.
Also check out the Minivan segment in the US, where the aging Dodge Grand Caravan retakes the lead thanks to doubling its sales and the Chrysler Pacifica arrives.
Large MPV segment
SsangYong Rodius / Stavic
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