After years of steady declines, the large MPV segment in Europe is finally revitalized in the first quarter of 2016 thanks to an injection of fresh products. The Ford S-Max returns to former glory of leading the segment from 2007 to 2011, as it takes firm control again in 2016. The S-Max was the best selling model in the segment for each of the past 3 months, ahead of the Renault Espace, coming out of the very deep hole of its aging predecessor to be the fastest growing model in the segment with sales up almost tenfold. With both the S-Max and the Espace sacrificing interior space for design, it leaves you wondering what the added value of this segment is. There are now plenty of 7-seater alternatives in the midsized MPV segment, which are easier to park and more fuel efficient. I guess these boutique MPVs are doing exactly what Ford and Renault had hoped they would do: since they can’t beat the German premium brands with sedans, the MPVs offer the mainstream brands an out-of-the-box competitor which attracts those looking for something different than the crowd. That also explains why most Espace buyers opt for the top-of-the-line Initiale Paris version and why Ford is launching the Vignale luxury line on the S-Max and Galaxy.
Note: clicking on the model name opens the sales data page for that model; clicking year in the legend turns the display for that year on/off
Despite the increased competition, the Seat Alhambra improves 17% after already growing 19% in all of 2015. As a result, the Volkswagen Sharan, last year’s leader is leapfrogged by its clone and relegated to fourth place with sales down 13%. The share of the two VW Group twins has dropped from a whopping 62,5% in Q1 of 2015 to 36,9%, while Ford now controls 41,5% with its two models. The Ford Galaxy has also been renewed and has doubled its volume, but isn’t storming the charts as the S-Max does, which leaves me wondering what the added value for this Europe-only model is. Or should I say “almost UK-only”, considering more than two thirds of Galaxy’s are sold in the UK…
Also check out the Minivan segment in the US, where the Toyota Sienna keeps the aging Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country (Voyager) behind it.
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