The boom in SUV sales may not be as sustained or long-lived as many industry commentators are predicting, according to Peugeot CEO Maxime Picat.
While Picat accepts that the current SUV boom will continue for the foreseeable future and admits he is planning for Peugeot to launch cars to meet demand, likely including a new 3008 and 5008 over the next 12 months, he believes that there is already a growing niche of customers looking for an alternative type of vehicle.
“Already we are asking what is the next frontier after SUVs?” he said. “We are trying to work on that question, and we have some interesting ideas that we can implement while the SUV boom is strong. We see a significant number of customers who know they don’t want an SUV but who also see saloons and hatches as boring - they want something else, something more beautiful. I am not going to give you the answer today, but it is an area we are exploring with some energy.”
Picat suggested that the explosion of interest in SUVs is already putting pressure on car makers because “SUVs are inherently less efficient”, which is an issue that will only get worse as sales increase. He also suggested there were fewer opportunities to expand SUV line-ups beyond the core models.
“There are limits of bodystyle,” he said. “I can’t see coupé and convertible versions selling in the way they do on saloons. That is why we think the SUV boom will change faster than that of the booms we have seen in the past; the potential for diversification of silhouettes is not as big. It doesn’t feel like it today, as we all rush to meet demand, but the SUV era may not be a long one.”
SUVs and crossovers accounted for around 23% of all European car sales in 2015, but closer to 35% of all US sales. Analysts predict that by 2020 the global mix of SUV and crossover sales could rise to close to 50% of all car sales in the world.