The small MPV segment in Europe as a whole saw a healthy increase of 13% in the first three quarters of 2013 compared to the same period last year, thanks to the introduction of two major new players who have shaken up the segment. Fiat 500L and Ford B-max were introduced in 2012 and are now the number 1 and 2 of the segment, knocking Opel Meriva off the top spot. With the European population aging, this segment will show even more growth in the future, as these models are very popular among the elderly carbuyers, because of their high seating position. Marketed mainly towards young families, the target group tends to prefer small SUVs for their style or mid-sized MPVs for their practicality.
Fiat 500L has been a welcome addition to the Fiat 500-family and has helped its utterly forgettable predecessor Idea to do exactly that: be forgotten quickly. In its home market Italy, it has been outselling its namegiver for three consecutive months and has been on the podium twice. Half of its European sales come from outside Italy, which may be more than any other large Fiat has accomplished since Fiat 127 in the seventies. Even in the US, the Serbian-built MPV has helped offset falling sales of the original Fiat 500 to keep Fiat brand sales flat year-to-date. Maybe this incredibly funny commercial “I’ve got my hose in the back” has got anything to do with it.
Ford B-Max with its sliding doors connects with the elderly buyer as a replacement for the equally dull-looking Ford Fusion, Top Gear’s 2002 Most Pointless Car. Citroën C3 Picasso benefits from the factory strikes that hit sales of its sister Citroën C3, especially in Italy, with sales up 265% to 12.135 in that country.
Look for Nissan Note to make some waves in this segment in 2014, with the new generation in showrooms now. Nissan expects demand to be boosted by the new design, but mostly from a 40% increase in fuel efficiency thanks to downsized engines, a matter increasingly important to European buyers, also because government incentives in several countries are favoring fuel efficient models.
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