SUVs and crossovers benefited most from Europe's better-than-expected sales surge last year. Combined sales of models including the Renault Captur, Nissan Qashqai, Audi Q3 and even the aging Volvo XC60 increased 22 percent to 3.05 million units, according to data from JATO Dynamics. That rise easily outpaced the overall market's 8.1 percent increase to 13.7 million. SUVs and crossovers accounted for 22 percent of all European passenger vehicle sales last year, up from 20 percent in 2014 and 17 percent in 2013.
Torrid demand for SUVs and crossovers continues to put increased pressure on minivans. Overall full-year sales of people movers fell 11 percent to slightly more than 1 million units. All three minivan segments lost volume in 2015. There is, however, a chance the compact minivan segment will rebound this year because Renault will debut a new generation of the Scenic and Volkswagen will have full-year availability of its revised Touran.
SUVs and crossovers (see chart, below) are also stealing sales from hatchbacks, sedans and wagons.