News - Market Insight - Market Insight 2021
Baby boom in SUV sales
New models draw strong interest in light SUV sector, where sales are taking off
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9 Aug 2021
By NEIL DOWLING
JUST how damaging SUVs have been to the established hatchback and sedan market is no better seen than in the booming light SUV segment – a segment that barely existed a decade ago and yet has really captured an audience.
Much of the interest centres around the style of the SUV profile that brings the attraction of a high seating position and the illusion – in most cases – of go-anywhere ability. Contrary to the perception, SUVs primarily live in urban applications and none more than the light SUV players.
The light SUV segment has rocketed 136 per cent in year-to-date July sales figures reported by VFACTS and, for the month of July, is up 87.9 per cent on the same month in 2020.
Last year wasn’t the best barometer for gauging change, so compared with the more robust 2019 year, the sector – inclusive of light and small SUVs because they were then combined – sold 80,148 examples in the seven months to July and in July alone, 10,513 vehicles.
Comparing apples with apples, the light and small SUV sectors in the seven months to July 2021 saw 125,513 sales (up a whopping 45,365 units or 36 per cent) – much of that gain in the lightweight end of the SUV models.
In July 2021 alone, the light and small SUV bracket saw 15,559 sales – 4548 of those in the ‘light’ category.
This category has 15 players but five ceased sales during the past 18 months – Citroen C3 Aircross, Citroen C4 Cactus, Ford Ecosport, Holden Trax and SsangYong Tivoli – and three were added.
Newcomers were the Ford Puma, Kia Stonic and Toyota Yaris Cross and to indicate how excitable the light-SUV sector has become, these three were hot showroom items that combined to find 1524 buyers.
The majority (849) walked into Kia dealerships while Toyota sold 472 of its new baby and Ford welcomed 203 owners.
A continuation of the upward trend is expected, with new segment entrants in the wings, including a smaller Volkswagen T model.
The rise of the light SUV has displaced a long list of light and small sedans and hatchbacks as the SUV style overtook the more traditional vehicles, despite sharing similarities including the hatchback’s lift-up tailgate.
Names no longer in the showrooms, replaced with SUVs, or dropped because the segment retracted, include the Honda City and Jazz (Honda’s H-RV taking up the slack and a smaller model rumoured); Hyundai Accent (replaced with the Venue and Kona); Renault Clio (Captur and Kadjar); and Prius C (Yaris Cross Hybrid).
There’s also the Suzuki Celerio (Suzuki Ignis and Jimny); and Ford Fiesta (buyers moved to the Ecosport but that has been withdrawn and replaced with the Puma).
Some have no replacement and have left the market. These include the Fiat Panda, and Holden’s Spark and Barina.
The most popular light SUV this year has been the Mazda CX-3 – which has held the spot for a while – with a 29.9 per cent share of the market and 10,145 sales in the seven months of this year.
It is important to note that while this has been a strong seller for Mazda and very popular with buyers, its market share is shrinking as new entrants fight for sales.
During the same seven months of 2020, the CX-3 had a market share of 52.3 per cent, so given the rise in sales of the sector, almost half of Mazda’s share has been eaten by new rivals.
The second-best seller is the Toyota Yaris Cross – which attracts attention also because it is available with a hybrid powerplant – with 4686 sales this year for a 13.8 per cent market share.
This is followed by Kia’s newly-launched Stonic – effectively the sibling of Hyundai’s Venue – which has sold 4334 units this year and has a 12.8 per cent market share.
The Hyundai Venue has sold 3611 units this year.
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