The large MPV segment in Europe lost volume for the 9th consecutive quarter in Q1 of 2019 with an 11% decline to just over 25.000 sales. European families, businesses and car rental companies continue to lose interest in this type of vehicle and the future of the segment looks bleak as fewer brands see profitability at these volumes while 7-seat crossovers cannibalize their MPV rivals, even though the latter are still way more space efficient and practical. Of the six remaining players in this segment, only one manages to improve its sales with four of the other five down by double digits. Like last year, the Seat Alhambra starts the year promisingly on top of the ranking, a position it was unable to maintain for the entire year. With a loss of 13%, the Alhambra loses faster than the overall segment, which is not surprising considering it’s also the oldest model in the class, together with its identical twin Volkswagen Sharan. Then again, the Sharan is down by just 3% and increases its share of the segment, as VW Group now holds 49% of all large MPV sales in Europe. The segment best seller for the past three years, the Ford S-Max loses 15% of its sales and is for now relegated to the #2 spot. The S-Max may strike back later this year unless Ford decides to pull the plug on its large MPVs early.
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Then again, the S-Max’s sibling Ford Galaxy is the only nameplate in the segment to improve its sales, at +3%, which means Ford improves its share to 39,7%. Then again, the segment as a whole is still shrinking fast and the still relatively fresh Ford models (they were renewed in 2016) are being handily outsold by models that were launched in 2010 and look like that too. This might be explained by the theory that image-conscious buyers who are less interested in functionality than design are flocking to crossovers and SUVs while those that continue to prefer MPVs are the ones who care more about interior space. The former group used to be the buyers of the S-Max and Renault Espace, two models that are down the most this year, while the latter group is best served by the VW Group twins and the Galaxy. Speaking of the Espace, the struggling grandfather of the segment, while also one of the freshest models in the class, is down by 17% and just over 10% share. It only outsells the SsangYong Rodius, which is down 70% and is now more of a niche player than it already was.
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