Consumers across the world are flocking towards sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and away from traditional sedans, wagons and hatchbacks. It is found that the market share of SUVs in the US jumped from less than 45% in 2012 to nearly 65% in 2018. Meanwhile, in China, road car sales increased by around 50% from 2010 to 2018 but SUV sales soared by an unprecedented 600% over the same period.
SUVs are synonymous with four-wheel-drive systems thanks to their origins in off-road vehicles. The overall global fitment rate of these systems, standing at more than 16 million units in 2018, can be used as a proxy for SUV development. Four-wheel-drive system fitments are expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.2% between 2024 and 2034. This is noticeably higher than the total industry volume CAGR of 1.3% over the same period. As a result, it is expected that SUVs will continue to increase their market share compared with road cars for the foreseeable future.
The momentum behind global SUV sales is good news for manufacturers because they are generally more profitable than the road cars on which they are based. However, the segment’s gains are threatened by governments introducing ever stricter vehicle emissions targets which SUVs, with their weighty bodies and brick-like proportions, find harder to meet than an equivalent road car.
Considering the long-term viability of SUVs is threatened by tightening targets, one might expect forecasts to predict a contraction in the segment. However, thanks to a range of emissions-busting technologies, the gap between SUVs and road cars has narrowed considerably. This means SUVs will continue to comply with emissions regulations so manufacturers can continue to sell these in-demand, high-profit models.
The latest report “The Rise of the SUV - Thematic Research” quantifies the current popularity of SUVs. It examines buying trends over time and the driving forces behind them. In addition, it also identifies the technologies that are helping SUVs perform similarly to traditional road cars.
This report is part of our ecosystem of thematic investment research reports, supported by our “thematic engine”.
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Table of Contents
- TECHNOLOGY BRIEFING
- Defining SUVs and crossovers
- Comparing SUVs to cars
- SUV-specific trends
- Technology trends
- Macroeconomic trends
- Regulatory trends
- VALUE CHAIN
- All-wheel drive
- Four-wheel drive
- e-AWD value chain
- INDUSTRY ANALYSIS
- Fitment of four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive systems
- SUV market size
- Clear momentum towards SUVs in China
- European sales echo trends in the US and China
- SUV sales also picking up in India
- Increasing SUV production in the US
- Exploring the effect of different chassis types on SUV sales
- Looking to the future
- Battery-electric powertrains will keep SUVs viable when combustion engines are outlawed
- COMPANIES SECTION
- APPENDIX: OUR THEMATIC RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
A selection of companies mentioned in this report includes:
- Great Wall
- Allison Transmission
- Magna Powertrain