Over the past 12 months, 84.24 million new cars hit the world’s roads and more than one in four was of the SUV variety.
Despite lingering economic uncertainty, total vehicle sales in 2016 were up 5.6% on the year before with increased demand in China, India and Europe more than compensating for the continued decline in Russia, Brazil, South Africa, Japan and South Korea.
According to JATO Dynamic’s final figures for the year, some 3.32 million cars were sold in India in 2016, an 8.4% jump in demand. However it was in Asia, Oceania and Central America where growth is really gathering momentum. Car sales were up 48.2% in Singapore (99,000 vehicles), 27.1% in Vietnam and 18.7% in Mexico.
China cemen+ted itself as the world’s biggest single car market with sales up by 14.2% -- that’s 25.53 million vehicles or equal to total vehicle sales across the whole of Europe, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, Israel and India. It’s also 1.4 times as many vehicles sold in the US.
But wherever the car was sold, there was a one-in-four chance that it was of the crossover or SUV variety -- 24.32 million were sold (that’s 28.8% of all sales globally, compared with 25.3% in 2015) over the past 12 months.
“SUVs have continued to take market share away from traditional segments, and this trend isn’t restricted to particular markets -- it’s a trend that we’ve seen on a global scale and expect to continue in 2017,” said Felipe Munoz, JATO’s Global Analyst.
JATO notes that those established brands that have performed the best over the past year have been the ones with the largest number of crossovers or SUVs in their current model range. Over the first quarter of 2016 alone, carmakers whose SUV sales made up 50%+ of their total sales saw an average 32% increase in sales. Hence Ford and GM’s rush to refresh their existing SUV models and add new derivatives, and, at the other end, marques like Bentley, Maserati and Jaguar continue to add off-roaders to their traditionally SUV-free ranges.
But while SUVs continue their domination, they’re not the only vehicle types seeing growing demand. There was a huge (11.7%) increase in demand for full-size luxury cars such as the Mercedes S Class. Pickup sales jumped 6.1%, sales of C-Segment cars like the Honda Civic, Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla were up 5.9%, and the MPV isn’t dead yet either, with a 4.8% increase in sales to 7.48 million examples.