If you work in the car industry, it must be tempting to think that building an SUV is a short cut to success. No surprise, really, that with SUVs booming in Europe and, now, in China, that MG’s third bodystyle is an SUV, shown in Shanghai this week.
You’d be unlucky to launch a compact SUV and not hit yearly sales in Western Europe of 130,000 or more. Even Peugeot’s 2008 – which is arguably not much more than a jacked-up, high-roof estate car – shifted 135,000 units in 2014. Peugeot had to increase production to keep pace with what must have been unexpected demand.
Move into the sector dominated by the Nissan Qashqai – where the new MG GS will compete – and the volumes are even bigger. According to the sales stats for Europe in 2014, the Nissan led the field, shifting 200,000 units ahead of the ageing VW Tiguan on 150,000 (and a massive 515,000 units worldwide).
However, unlike the booming market for compact SUVs, the midsize sector is much more competitive, even though it accounts for about a million sales per year. Nearly 30 nameplates are competing in this market, which has resulted in a ‘long tail’ of models running from Qashqai at the top (202k) and the Peugeot 4008 (just over 2500 sales) at the bottom. But there are healthy sales to be had. Kia’s Sportage is in third place (nearly 97,000) Hyundai’s ix35 forth (nearly 94,000).