The large MPV segment in Europe saw a sharp fall of 25% in the first three quarters of 2013 compared to the same period last year, with just the slowest selling of the only 9 players left in the segment selling more than last year. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, looking at the age of some of the models:
Lancia Voyager has been around as Chrysler Grand Voyager since 2007, rebadged into a Lancia in 2011 to replace the even slower-selling Phedra. But don’t expect Voyager to keep up this sales pace, numbers will keep going down faster than an iPhone battery.
Ford S-Max and Galaxy were introduced in 2006, when they shook up the segment. Their replacement is long overdue, because the production will move from the soon to be shuttered Genk factory to Spain, similar to Mondeo. The current versions are kept from even further declines with steep discounts and extra kit. If you’re looking for a good deal and don’t care about being hip and trendy (as every other MPV-owner), head straight to your Ford-dealer. Don’t expect the new generations to be able repeat the magic and turn the segment around once more. They’re still nothing more than large vans.
Renault Espace, the fourth generation since pioneering the segment in Europe, has been kept somewhat alive with no less than 3 facelifts since 2003, and won’t be put out of its misery until early 2015. At last they have understood that a large Renault MPV is not every man’s wet dream, so it will be replaced by a crossover-like vehicle, unveiled as a concept car named Initiale Paris, as Renault is jumping the sinking shipwreck and joining the hip-and-trendy.
But the grandparents of the segment are Peugeot 807 and Citroën C8, which have been on the market virtually unchanged since 2002, when they were introduced alongside Lancia Phedra and Fiat Ulysse, which have thankfully been euthanized already. Since nobody is looking forward to their replacements, none is planned. They won’t be missed.
That leaves the German twins VW Sharan and Seat Alhambra as the youngest in class, only 3 years old, and unsurprisingly they are the only ones with sales falling slower than the segment average.
Aren’t I forgetting about the SsangYong Rodius? Well, shouldn’t I? Sure, there’s a new generation of the enormous MPV, available as a three-row 7-seater with a huge boot, as opposed to some continents, where a fourth row makes it a 9- or even 11-seater. And sure, it is the youngest of the bunch and the only model to increase sales, but considering it has sold less than 100 units a month in the continent, and has a less than 1% share of the segment, it is fair to conclude this is not a significant player.
Similar to the US, the large MPV segment is turning into a niche, with sales probably below 100.000 units in 2015, divided between three persistent manufacturers: VW Group, Ford and Fiat/Chrysler.
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