Sub-compact SUVS are making a huge impact in India, with the segment expected to nearly treble to 325,000 units this year. New entrants like the Hyundai Creta and Renault Kwid are pushing the market as greater political stability and a strong economy encourage new car buyers to move away from hatchbacks and saloons. However, the story for premium brands is not so good. The ban in city centres of diesel engines over 2.0 litres is hitting premium sales. Overall, though, sales will be buoyant and the market is expected to grow twice as fast as last year.
2016 - 4.99m units (+1.1%)
Hot segment: kei cars (+3.5%)
In a market that’s expected to flatline in 2016, it’s hard to single out a winning market segment. But a minor winner will be kei cars, the city cars designed to comply with Japan’s urban parking regime. They’re forecast to buck the trend by recording double the growth of the whole market and reach 1.55 million, reflecting the return of demand after a 17% slump in sales last year. Tax changes, including a VAT hike in 2014, laid waste to the market last year. It is a great irony that kei cars actually sell in bigger numbers in rural areas, where they are prized by Japan’s huge workforce of small-holding farmers. Many will need new kei cars after postponing purchases last year.
2016 - 25.51m units (+5.5%)
Hot segments: compact crossovers (+7.5%) and sub-compact crossovers (+3.6%)
Chinese new car buyers are already moving on from traditional saloons to SUVs, echoing a trend that has taken hold in Western markets. The hot sellers in China this year will be affordable five-seat compact crossovers, typified by models like the Baojun 560. So popular are they that 4.3 million – the same size as the UK and French new car markets combined – will be sold this year. However, the 2016 increase will slow to 7.5%, compared with the 40% market growth in 2015. Again, in context, a ‘slow’ 7.5% is twice the growth forecast for the entire French car market this year. A second SUV segment, for sub-compact models, is also on fire in China, although the numbers are smaller. The 4.1-metre-long Jianghuai Refine S2 is the prime example. Last year, one million sub-compact SUVs were sold, almost twice as many as in 2014, thanks to numerous launches.