Renault to join fast-growing niche with Captur
Renault soon will join the fast-growing subcompact crossover segment with the Captur, which will debut at the Geneva auto show in March.
Huge sales gains are forecast in Europe for subcompact crossovers as automakers such as Renault, Volkswagen, Peugeot, Ford, Fiat and Honda prepare to debut models in the segment.
Small crossover sales in Europe will more than double to 400,000 by 2015, analyst IHS Automotive predicts. In 2011, 163,806 small crossovers were sold, with the Nissan Juke dominating, according to the consultancy.
The Captur is 4120mm long and based on the new Clio's underpinnings. According to Renault, the Captur combines the looks of an SUV with the practicality of a minivan as well as the ride and handling of a passenger car.
Renault will build the boldly styled Captur in its factory Valladolid, Spain, where it has installed a capacity of 90,000 units a year.
According to IHS estimates, by 2014 the Captur will be Europe's No. 3-selling subcompact crossover with a volume of 89,019. The analysts expect the Nissan Juke to remain No. 1 in the segment with 103,951 sales followed by the Peugeot 2008 at 95,896 sales (see table, below).
Peugeot also plans a Geneva show debut for the 2008, which is based on the 208 subcompact launched in 2012.
The two French models will face growing competition from freshly launched models and future arrivals.
GM said its Opel/Vauxhall Mokka subcompact crossover is a "runway success" having received 68,000 orders in six months. The Mokka is also sold as the Chevrolet Trax in Europe and as the Buick Encore in the United States, demonstrating the global ambitions that manufacturers have for cars in the small crossover segment.
Peugeot has said it will build the 2008 in France, China and Brazil, while Ford's entrant in the segment, the EcoSport, is due in Europe late this year. The EcoSport was first revealed in 2012 in both Brazil and India.
Fiat is planning a crossover version of the Fiat 500, called the 500X, which will share a platform with a new subcompact Jeep. Both will be built in Melfi, Italy, beginning in the second half of next year.
VW previewed its first subcompact crossover concept, the Taigun, at last year's Sao Paulo auto show. Based on the New Small Family platform that underpins the Up minicar, VW's new vehicle is expected to debut in 2015 at the earliest.
Aside from Nissan, Asian brands have had mixed results in the segment.
Honda, which from 1999 to 2005 offered the highly successful HR-V, will unveil a Jazz-based subcompact crossover next week at the Detroit auto show. The model is expected in Europe by 2015.
The Toyota Urban Cruiser, introduced in Europe in 2009, was plagued by a strong yen and a weak euro and was too expensive to lure money-conscious buyers. Toyota sold sold about 7,000 Urban Cruisers in 2011 and about 3,500 last year.
IHS says Mazda, Toyota and Hyundai will introduce new small crossovers in 2015.
You can reach Luca Ciferri at email@example.com.