Another spot of bad news for MPV lovers as the Citroën Grand C4 Spacetourer disappears from sale. MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles), the cars that we used to call people carriers (which was a bit weird, because what else are cars for?), have had a tough time of it recently, mostly because people are buying SUVs (sport utility vehicles) instead.
That’s certainly the Citroën’s problem. The existence of the Citroen C5 Aircross and now also the Citroen C5 X is cited as a reason why there’s no more seven-seat C4 Spacetourer, whose demise follows the (presumably less grand) five-seat C4 Spacetourer, which went off sale three years ago this week.
Citroën certainly isn’t alone in this. Take Volkswagen, whose range is so complete that it provides a useful barometer for these things and which has shifted a bunch of MPVs over the years. It’s now up to eight different SUVs/4x4s/crossovers and down to just two MPVs: one of which is the Volkswagen Volkswagen Touran, the other the upcoming ID Buzz, which also finds a home in the vans section of the Volkswagen website.
And in there is the nub of it. If you need to move lots of people and require a large number of seats to do it, the optimal shape you would inevitably design ends up being quite van-ish.
Sure, car makers try to make MPVs as versatile and practical as they can, but the fact is most of them already make very versatile and practical vehicles and, unlike some of their cars, actually make money from them too.
Commercial vehicles basically prop up the car-making side of some European automotive operations. They need cars to make the economies of scale work, but the profits come from slab-sided white vehicles.