The B-SUV segment is now one of the main drivers of growth in global passenger car sales and all the evidence suggests that this is set to continue over the coming years, writes Felipe Munoz of JATO Dynamics in its analysis of the small SUV market in the UK.
The popularity of these small SUVs exploded when European car makers decided to take their B-Segment cars, also known as subcompacts or superminis, and develop them into taller, more capable versions, whilst retaining the engine size and transmission types.
In fact, one of the key factors in the success of the B-SUV segment has been that they don’t need to feature 4×4 drivetrains in order to be considered SUVs.
In H1 2017, global sales of B-SUVs grew by 10% to 2.77 million units – meaning they accounted for around 7% of all passenger cars sold during the same period.
Comparatively, in H1 2016, B-SUVs accounted for approximately 6.5% of all passenger cars sold across the globe.
A wider choice of brands, cheaper models and more appealing designs are the main factor behind this significant growth, which is all the more impressive when factoring in the state of the global car market; where US car sales are falling, demand for cars in China are cooling and Europe faces only moderate growth.
The UK has played a major part in the rise of the B-SUV. In 2011, the British B-SUV market totalled 45,500 units, of which 75% were locally-made products, specifically the Nissan Juke and the Mini Countryman.
Since then, registrations of the segment have grown rapidly, jumping from 55,600 units in 2012 to a record of 238,700 units last year. In terms of market share, the B-SUV accounted for 2.3% of the market in 2011, rising to 8.9% by 2016. What’s the reason behind this demand? Simply put – consumers want SUVs, and with their higher driving position, appealing design and comfort, and low price, B-SUVs have struck a chord with consumers in the UK.
It is important to note though that the B-SUV segment’s rapid growth is cooling down this year. Through June, B-SUV registrations in the UK barely grew – increasing by only 0.8% to 126,800 units, or 9.0% market share. That’s higher than the share they held in H1 2016, which was 8.9%, because despite the low increase for the segment, the overall market fell by 1.3% in H1 2017.
It seems then that unlike the more traditional segments, demand for B-SUV’s is not cooling amid uncertainty over Brexit. Rather, the main reason for the stagnating growth of B-SUVs appears to be because of the current range of models available in the segment.
Ageing models such as the Mokka and the Captur have experienced double digit falls. Likewise, the Juke, the UK’s top-selling B-SUV, is facing its last few months in the market in its current iteration, before the next generation arrives.
Other popular B-SUVs such as the C4 Cactus, 500X, HR-V and Renegade have also seen their volumes decrease. In comparison, the C-SUV and D-SUV segments have both benefitted from new vehicles entering the market in the last few months, resulting in registrations increasing by 16% and 24% for each segment respectively.
Clearly then, the B-SUV segment needs new vehicles to enter the market.
The B-SUV segment has experienced major growth over the last few years, and when looking to the future, this looks set to continue.
With much needed new entrants to the market coming soon, in particular the new Volkswagen T-Roc, which as a Volkswagen, will shake the segment and take away market share from the current leaders, the B-SUV market is set to grow.
Likewise, with other entrants to the segment, such as the Hyundai Kona, the Kia Stonic, the Citroen C3 Aircross and the Seat Arona, the demand from consumers for new B-SUV models will be met, further aiding the growth of the segment.
Analyses made by JATO based on SMMT figures