Europe's minivan market is in free fall as more automakers shift their focus to SUVs, but the struggling segment is being handed a lifeline as companies offer an alternative in the form of more sophisticated passenger versions of vans such as the Volkswagen Transporter and Opel/Vauxhall Vivaro.
Having peaked at 2.4 million units in 2005, last year the combined minivan segment dropped below 1 million, figures from LMC Automotive show. At the height of its popularity, the class-leading Renault Scenic accounted for more than 300,000 sales annually, but last year no minivan managed to top 100,000.
The slide will worsen in the coming years as more automakers abandon the segment, according to LMC Automotive, which sees the minivan sector dropping below 800,000 this year and falling to fewer than 600,000 by 2022. "With SUVs being the primary focus of investment, other body styles have to fight for survival, none more so than the minivan," Sammy Chan, an analyst with LMC, wrote in a paper earlier this year.