German carmakers are expanding an industry charge into so-called premium “crossover” vehicles, seeking to tap demand for models that combine the functionality and cachet of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) with the comfort and performance of luxury cars.
BMW AG and Daimler AG plan to expand its crossover portfolio to seven vehicles by 2020, according to European supplier sources, with new entries in multiple sizes and price points.
Volkswagen AG’s (VW) upscale Audi subsidiary will be nipping at their heels, with a future lineup of six crossovers, those sources added.
Why the boom? According to Peter Fuss, automotive specialist in Ernst & Young’s German practice: “Consumers want more premium quality ... And crossovers have a more modern design.”
Daimler and BMW are not alone in trying to grab a slice of the crossover market.
Britain’s Jaguar, now owned by the Tata Group, is teasing a future crossover at Frankfurt with the C-X17 concept.
Japanese brands Lexus and Infiniti, owned respectively by Toyota and Nissan, are trying to muscle deeper into the segment, too - Lexus with its LF-NX “concept,” and Nissan’s Q30 concept, a small hatchback that is likely to morph into a crossover derivative.
BMW has similar aspirations for its crossover portfolio. Its next new entry is the X4, which is slated to go on sale in 2014. It is also looking at two additional crossover models – a compact two-door called X2 in 2016 and a long-wheelbase, ultra-premium four-door dubbed X7 that could arrive in 2018-2019.
Audi, meanwhile, has scaled back its ambitious growth plans in crossovers, suppliers said, having shelved proposals for the coupe-like Q2 and Q4. Its three existing crossovers are being overhauled, starting with the big Q7 in 2014.