Welcome to the age of the crossover

  • AFP
  • Updated: May 22, 2015 15:02 IST

Despite being less than six months into 2015 is poised to become a record-breaking year for global car sales in general and for crossovers in particular.

The Jeep brand's sales across Europe have gown for the 18th successive month and according to the latest figures from parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, published on Tuesday, the SUV brand has seen its market share grow by 200% over the last 12 months.

The model leading the charge? The Renegade crossover, which has cemented itself as one of the top 10 in Europe since its launch.

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And in the US, it's a very similar story. BMW North America's CEO, Ludwig Willisch has revealed that the company can't keep up with demand for its X3 and X5 crossovers and could easily sell a further 10,000 units of each, which is why the company is trying to increase capacity at its US plant to produce 450,000 SUVs a year. "It is a nice problem to have as a corporation. The X3 and X5 are in very high demand," he told Automotive News.

Likewise, despite its incredible range of sportscars, luxury sedans and coupes, Audi this week revealed that its biggest selling model in the US is its Q5 crossover.

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In the US, this growing demand for something with car-like handling and SUV looks is understandable. Big, go-anywhere vehicles were needed historically to traverse the country comfortably and today over 80% of the US car market is made up of big sedans, pickup trucks and SUVs.

However, the demand for theses cars is growing everywhere and the reason why is age. In Europe and the US a new car buyer's average age is 50, but when the figures are broken down by brand, it's companies like Land Rover, Dodge and Mitsubishi -- SUV companies -- that attract younger buyers in their 40s. At the same time, China is becoming the world's largest and -- with an average age of 35 -- youngest car market and its population are starting to dictate global design trends.

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According to Honda, one of the first carmakers to hit upon the crossover formula, these cars appeal to a very dynamic and demanding buyer profile.

"Active people who enjoy both their work and home life. These people have a high sense of the balance between fashion and practicality," said Masaki Kobayashi who used this profile to govern the design and styling of the HR-V, Honda's next generation crossover, which goes on sale later this year.

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