Small SUV sales in Europe’s five largest car markets are forecast to nearly double to 931,000 units by 2018, led by fast-rising demand in France, the UK and Italy, according to IHS Automotive, which also sees the segment growing more than 70 percent to 1.3 million units Europewide by 2020. France was Europe’s No. 1 sales market for subcompact-sized SUVs and crossovers last year and it is expected to extend its lead over the UK between now and 2018 (see table below) as more Europeans move away from hatchbacks and sedans, matching a trend already underway in the U.S.
“America embraced the SUV, and you can see that trend happening here. The dominance of the hatchback and sedan will be gone in a decade or two,” analyst Justin Cox, head of European production with LMC Automotive, told Automotive News Europe. In 2014, small SUV sales in Europe rose 54 percent to 761,087, according to data from JATO Dynamics. The only segment to experience greater percentage-based grow was electric cars, which were up 79 percent in the region last year. When all volume- and premium-brand SUV and crossover sales were counted in 2014 more than 2.5 million units were sold. That means one out of every five car buyers in Europe chose an SUV or crossover last year, up from 17 percent in 2013. The market share rose to 23 percent of all car sales during the first quarter of this year, according to figures from the French automakers association CCFA.