The large SUV segment is following the path of the large MPV segment, decreasing 20% to just below 25.000 units in the first three quarters of 2013, but the premium brands are to thank for that. The premium large SUV segment sells five times the volume of the non-premium brands. While large MPV’s are mainly Europe-only models with the exception of Voyager, for most of the large SUV’s Europe is just an afterthought. More large SUVs are sold in the US and the Arabian Gulf states during a tennis game between President Obama and Secretary General Al Zayani than in 12 months in Europe.
Of the top players in the segment, only Hyundai Santa Fe is able to withstand the slide, with 635 more sales than in the same period last year, thanks to the introduction of the third generation, which is esthetically a huge step forward from the previous versions, which looked like someone had put them in an oven and they melted.
Kia Sorento has never been able to repeat the success of its first generation, due to unmemorable design. Sorento design stands out in the Kia showrooms, but not in a positive way and it is in desperate need of a Peter Schreyer make-over. But then again, could Kia care less about the European performance of Sorento, with 81.380 sales in the United States (-8%) in the first three quarters of 2013 vs. just 6.102 sales in Europe (-27%)?
With over 40.000 Land Cruiser (yes, the luxury one), over 40.000 Prado and over 25.000 Land Cruiser Pick-up (yes, the classic one) sales in just 6 months in the Arabian Gulf Cooperation Council, adding another 9.121 units on first-half of 2012 sales, Toyota won’t feel the pain of those lost 3.041 European sales.
Nissan Pathfinder will be up in 2014 as well, thanks to the new design and the switch from a trucklike body-on-frame to a carlike unibody, but it won’t take the segment out of its slump.
India-owned South-Korean brand SsangYong is the only other brand to show a year-on-year increase, as sales of the Rexton almost triple, thanks to a facelift late 2012.
Don’t look for the only non-Asian entry in this segment, Jeep Cherokee, to storm the charts in 2014, the new generation will move down one segment to the much larger midsized SUV segment.
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