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Europe's Flirt With SUVs

Posted by: Gail Edmondson on August 2, 2007

Cayenne for SUV blog.jpg

Europeans have long distained the chunky, gas-guzzling SUV, which together with light trucks make up over 50 percent of US auto sales. Nearly 60% of vehicle sales in Europe in 2006 were sedans or compacts and 13% were wagons. Only 7.1% were SUVs.

But that small fraction is already a mini revolution. The market share of SUVs in Europe has actually doubled from 3.5% in 2000, making SUVs the fastest-growing segment in the European market. Designer sport-utes by BMW, Porsche (like the Cayenne pictured above), Mercedes, VW and Audi are sparking a newfound Continental affection for SUVs — albeit more stylish and upmarket models than those typically seen in most American shopping malls.

BMW designer Adrian von Hooydonk in particularly has a knack for making clunky beautiful. Take a look at the BMW X5 and the baby BMW X3. These models also drive like rockets - luring Europeans who demand a great ride into the driver’s seat.

The question is, how far will this new attraction go? I bet SUVs can capture 10 percent of the European market in the coming years. One reason: Sales of luxury SUVs globally remain robust, while mass-market models are getting squeezed by high gasoline prices. Well-heeled buyers who can shell out $40,000 and up for an SUV don’t need to worry about the price of a fillup.

European SUVs already run on clean diesel, giving them the kind of mileage that hybrids offer. And watch for a new wave of green Euro-SUVs at the upcoming Frankfurt Auto Show starting Sept. 14. Even Porsche’s next-gen Cayenne (2009) is going to be available in hybrid version that gets 18 miles per gallon. Europe’s fling with SUVs that are stylish, posh and green has only just begun.

Reader Comments


August 2, 2007 11:03 AM

Gail - I think you are right in assuming that the growth of the SUV in European markets will be driven by diseal and/or hybrid technology. I share the same views.

Gas is double the price and in some place more than double (as you already know) than in the US. Plus the cars cost more, in the sense its more expensive to own a car there than here. So to out weigh these negative impacts on the wallet (when shopping for a big car). Cars there need to offer more in terms of mileage at least, this is more important when it comes to SUVs.

Its true when people says, "Big is better" people just want bigger cars, SUVs world over are quite the stir. But they might stop short when they realize the mileage output of these vehicles! The diseals and hybrids should help change that negative opinion.

Why haven't we read in more detail about Diseal hybrids instead of Gas/Petrol hybrid... now that would be complete revolution.


August 4, 2007 5:58 AM

Is this suppose to be good news? The last thing we need is more SUVs on the road.

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