DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC

SUVs not that hot after all?

Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News EuropeDouglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe
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SUVs and crossovers rank far below hatchbacks and sedans when it comes to what customers in Europe intend to purchase, according to a study.

In 2012, 47 percent of all male and female car buyers in four out of the five major European markets intended to purchase a hatchback or sedan, according to UK-based researcher Kantar Media.

The data gives a good indication why Nissan is so keen to get back into the compact hatchback segment, which it will do next year despite having strong sellers such as the Qashqai and Juke crossovers. Nissan hasn't offered a compact hatchback in Europe since it stopped selling the Almera in 2006.

The figures also support Audi's decision to sell its new A3 sedan in Europe as well as the United States and China.

Station wagons ranked No. 2 with men last year as 11 percent of the survey respondents said that was the type of vehicle they intended to buy. Minivans finished third with men at 8 percent with SUVs ranking No. 4 at 6 percent and coupes in last place out of the five car types at 3 percent.

For women, station wagons and minivans tied for second at 8 percent last year while SUVs were No. 4 at 4 percent and coupes finished at the bottom with 2 percent.

While SUVs are low on the list of vehicles that people in Europe intend to buy, they did gain 1 percentage point of share with men in 2012 compared with 2011. The point came at the expense of hatchbacks and sedans but the small decline didn't come close to threatening the huge lead those models have in Europe.

Women lost some interest in SUVs last year compared with 2011 while coupes gained with female buyers at the expense of crossovers, the data shows.

The bigger loser was minivans. In both 2010 and 2011 about 11 percent of male and female car buyers in Europe intended to get people carriers. In 2012, the percentage fell to single-digits (8 percent) for both sexes.

The statistics are based on feedback from potential cars buyers in Germany, France, Spain and the UK.

You can reach Douglas A. Bolduc at dbolduc@crain.com.

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