Belgian car buyers also prefer SUVs
Also in Belgium Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) are still gaining popularity. Last year 3 out of ten cars sold on the Belgian market were SUVs.
Where analysts and experts thought ten years ago that the growing SUV sales were a hype or a temporary trend, the SUV has become a permanent part of our environment. Everywhere in the world the SUV and its derivatives are there to stay.
In the States they have already more than 40% market share, so much that car manufacturer Ford has decided to concentrate only on producing and selling those cars and their derivatives in the North-American market.
The SUV market segment has become huge and very diversified. Most SUVs sold in a country like Belgium are only faintly related to the real 4×4 off-road vehicles they were initially derived off. More than 90% have only front wheel drive and are technically closely related to the ‘normal’ car, with which they share the chassis.
That’s also what the Belgian car manufacturers and importers federation Febiac is saying: “These are cars that have the appearance of off-road vehicles but they are in fact front-wheel drive cars with normal tyres. They only have the looks.”
According to Febiac the success has something to do with the ageing population. “In 2020 one out of three car users will be older than 60. They appreciate a comfortable way to get in or out of the car and the ‘higher on its wheels’ SUV provides it.” In the Netherlands more than 70% of the SUV buyers are older than 55.
The federation also partly counters the criticism that the popularity of the SUV is increasing the consumption (and therefore the pollution by exhaust gases) again. “Halving the SUV market would lead to a decrease in CO2 emissions of only 2%”, says Febiac. “The fact that the whole market is now fast moving to petrol engine cars leads to a far bigger increase in CO2 emissions.”
Pros and cons
The debate about the usefulness of SUVs on our roads is growing. It is a fact that SUVs are consuming more than their ‘normal’ counterparts, they are not safer or more spacious than these normal cars, and the benefit of sitting higher and having a better overview on traffic (a big argument for women drivers) is vanishing when everybody drives one.
What the car industry fails to indicate is that the selling of SUVs is also more lucrative than that of normal cars. They have the same technical base but manufacturers can ask more for a SUV and normally the optional items ordered on it are more expensive and higher in number.
Another argument pleading for SUV-shaped cars: the transition to electrical vehicles is easier with SUVs because the large batteries can more easily be stored under the floor without impairing on the inner volume of the car. Later on manufacturers can focus on cars and platforms specifically made for electric locomotion.