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Monday, 27 June 2011

Compact SUVs shift gear for leaner times

Financial Times
June 26, 2011

Sport utility vehicles and more compact crossovers are selling briskly in developed economies and finding new buyers in markets such as Russia and China despite higher fuel prices and leaner times.

To meet strong demand for the high-riding, brawny-looking vehicles, carmakers are extending ranges, and in doing so, stretching the definition of an SUV.

Sales of larger vehicles have grown faster than small ones in Europe this year, partly due to the distorting effect of “cash for clunkers” incentives that promoted demand for smaller cars.

But the segment had been expanding, driven largely by a proliferation of compact SUVs, or crossovers. SUVs’ share of the European market rose from 7 per cent in 2006 to 11.5 per cent last year, according to JD Power, the consultancy.

In China, the largest car market, SUV sales last year were double the 2009 level. Their share of the market has doubled from 7 per cent in 2006 to 14 per cent last year.
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