Compact minivan sales in Europe remain valuable to French and German automakers even though more brands are quitting the segment because of the growing popularity of SUVs and crossovers.
Volkswagen Group's Skoda is the latest automaker to abandon minivans to focus on SUVs and SUV-styled crossovers after ending production of its Roomster in December. The Czech marque joined its sister brand Seat, along with Fiat, Mazda and Honda, which have dropped minivans in Europe.
European compact minivan sales fell by 13 percent to 587,215 last year, according to JATO Dynamics market researchers. Sales of the models have dipped from almost 800,000 in 2011 and IHS Automotive forecasts that the segment will drop to below 400,000 by 2020.
IHS analyst Tim Urquhart said the trend toward customers switching to SUVs or SUV-styled crossovers will continue. "We can expect more cannibalization" of the European minivan market from SUVs going forward," Urquhart told Automotive News Europe.