Volkswagen Group's late arrival to Europe’s small SUV/crossover segment is expected to make one of the region's fastest-growing sectors even stronger. In Europe, small SUV sales rose 36 percent to 1.04 million last year. IHS Automotive predicts sales in the sector will double by 2022 as automakers such as VW brand, Seat and Skoda, as well as Hyundai and Kia, add models.
VW Group, however, is still years away from having an entry from one of its volume brands in the segment, which is something that rivals assume is not making the automaker's retailers very happy.
"If I was a Volkswagen dealer I would be screaming, 'Where the hell is my small crossover? Peugeot, Renault, Nissan, Opel are killing us,'" said an auto executive who asked not to be named.
The VW brand previewed a small SUV at this year's Geneva auto show with the T-Cross Breeze convertible concept. Analyst IHS Automotive predicts it will go on sale in 2018, using the same powertrain and components as the Audi Q2.
Meanwhile VW Group's Spanish unit, Seat, recently announced it would build its first small SUV at its plant in Martorell, near Barcelona. The SUV will debut in 2017.
"This is excellent news for both the brand and our main factory because it is a fast-growing segment," Seat CEO Luca de Meo said in a statement.