Small SUV sales growth slowing

Now that we’re beyond the half-way point of 2016, it’s possible to sit back a little and look at wider segment trends.
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One of the more interesting developments this year has been the moderate slowdown in growth among small SUVs — the high-riding, city-car based crossovers that have boomed in recent times.

Granted, year-to-date sales are up 9.4 per cent to 58,345 units total, and the market share of 9.8 per cent is 0.6 points higher than it was at this time last year (making it the market’s number-five segment overall), but it’s still a slide.


Since 2012, annual small SUV sales have grown over the previous year by at least 16.5 per cent. They grew 27 per cent last year alone.

Ford Australia president and CEO Graeme Whickman is just one of several car company executives that have commented lately on the easing within the small SUV market.

“I don’t think the segment has grown,” he said to media including CarAdvice recently. “I think the energy in that segment has abated a little bit and people are looking to different derivatives."

Ford EcoSport rear

It’s no secret where these buyers are going at present. Medium SUV sales from the class above are up a massive 19 per cent to 84,176, giving them more than 14 per cent share of the entire new vehicle market (second only to small cars).

Nevertheless, it’s worth a closer look at what small SUVs are selling well, and which are not.

Number one in volume is the Mazda CX-3, with 9372 sales this year (up 121 per cent), ahead of the sharply priced Mitsubishi ASX (8775, up 47 per cent), Honda HR-V (that brand’s top-seller now, up 30 per cent to 6744) and the under-appreciated Nissan Qashqai (6416, up 21 per cent).

2015 Honda HR-V v 2015 Suzuki Vitara Twin Test-4

This leading quartet own 60 per cent of mainstream small SUV market between them.

Next-tier models are the all-wheel-drive only (a class-rarity) Subaru XV with 4330 units placing it 9.0 per cent up, ahead of the discounted Holden Trax (4170, up 37 per cent) and the impressive new Suzuki Vitara with 2950 sales, all incremental as it’s a new entrant.

The Volkswagen Tiguan has managed 2125, down 40 per cent, but the stock levels are low given the imminent arrival of a brand new, larger next-generation car. The Nissan Juke sits at 1265, down 7.0 per cent.

2016 BMW X1 S-DRIVE 20i v 2016 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Premium-49

It’s single figures for the also-rans, comprising the Ford EcoSport (975, down 6.0 per cent), Renault Captur (966, up 49 per cent), Jeep Compass (700, down 58 per cent), Jeep Renegade (521, all new), Suzuki Jimny (471, down 18 per cent), Jeep Patriot (428, down 54 per cent), Peugeot 4008 (394, down 22 per cent) and Fiat 500X (304, all new).

There’s also the Skoda Yeti (298, down 45 per cent given lack of stock related to Dieselgate), Suzuki S-Cross (285, down 68 per cent), Peugeot 2008 (212, up 19 per cent), Citroen C4 Cactus (116, all new), SsangYong Korando (101, down 57 per cent) and Peugeot 3008 (57, down 26 per cent).

Meanwhile, at the luxury end of the market, things are much stronger. The new BMW X1 leads with 2185, up a staggering 270 per cent. Next is the Audi Q3 (2137, up 27 per cent), Mercedes-Benz GLA (1735, up 19 per cent) and Mini Countryman (252, down 12 per cent).