Fighting the overall European decline in demand, which has been driven down by high unemployment and sluggish economic recovery, carmakers are targeting bright spots in the market to keep their businesses afloat.
Crossovers, essentially a low-slung SUV built to take up the same space as a hatchback, have long been the industry’s saving grace, and are still defying economic logic as customers choose to pay a little more for a car that only gives the illusion of a more substantial product.
Peugeot, the hardest hit of all of Europe’s carmakers, in June announced that it was doubling production of its 2008 crossover, putting it in the strange situation of adding to capacity in one factory as it wrestled with the need to close down others.
Meanwhile, Nissan’s Juke is still doing very well, despite its very hate/love design and the fat that it is now facing some serious competition – we understood it became an absolute hit when it came into the market as it was the only one in that segment.
Now, Opel’s Mokka and Chevreolt’s Trax or Renault’s Captur are all slugging it out with the Peugeot 2008 and Nissan Juke for the title of Europe’s most popular crossover – and bringing much-needed earnings to their manufacturers.
And, if you think that’s enough, brace yourselves – the crossover game ups its ante in the premium segment as well – Mini is already on the market with its Countryman/Paceman duo, Mercedes-Benz is soon to follow with the GLA and Audi will strike back with a Q2 model in the immediate future,
It is not all about pseudo-SUVs. Sales of entry-level models are growing too, while premium carmakers are snatching customers from the volume players by inching down the price pole. Just watch Mercedes-Benz with its CLA four door coupe and you’ll know what we mean.
Dacia, Renault’s low-cost brand, is the continent’s best performer by sales growth, while demand for lower priced models such as Fiat’s 500 model have gone some way to offset a slump in demand for mid-range cars that have suffered most due to the demand fall.
Via Financial Times
) - Friday, October 25th, 2013 - filed under Industry
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