Observe, enlighten and decipher the evolution
of consumption patterns in France and abroad
Section 2 - SUVs, a stunning success story

A standard bearer for the market

5 minutes of reading
SUVs divide opinion like no other type of vehicle in history. They generate clear and vocal opposition and prompt heated debate. So how can one explain their incredible level of success, one that has made them the passenger vehicle market’s leading segment? This global success has been replicated in all 17 countries covered by this survey and, more broadly, in every nation in which cars are sold. Indeed, SUVs hold great appeal and offer various advantages that draw in an ever increasing number of motorists, but also passengers. Nobody could have predicted the degree of popularity enjoyed by SUVs and their future seems just as bright, especially if we consider the magic dust that electricity is set to sprinkle onto them over the coming years.

Global domination

That is the dream of all manufacturers. To see their product stamp its mark across the world, with breathtaking speed, and exceed any expectations they may have had, however unreasonable. The SUV is one of those dreams and it has come true in a relatively short space of time, establishing itself as the leading segment in the automotive market.

Today, the category accounts for 45% of global sales and 38% of sales in the European Union. In the latter, its market share has increased almost twofold since 2013 (Fig. 10).

Worldwide, its growth over the same period has been less blistering, but still stands at an impressive 50%.




Right at the top of the tree is the USA, a country we tend to associate with big cars and wide open spaces.

SUVs account for just over half of all car sales in the States (52%) and the segment has grown 50% in less than a decade. With SUVs securing a market share of 48%, China is the second ranked country of L’Observatoire Cetelem de l’Automobile 2022. Thus, close to 1 in 2 Chinese motorists now drive this type of vehicle. Portugal, Turkey, Brazil and Mexico sit at the bottom of the ranking (28%, 28%, 26% and 19%). In France, meanwhile, the market share of SUVs is just above the European average, at 40%, a similar figure to most of the other countries surveyed (Fig. 11).




An SUV for every budget

Even without gathering the opinion of motorists on the reasons for this incredible popularity, one explanation is obvious. Over time, SUVs have become available at as wide a range of prices as that of saloon cars. So we now have both budget and luxury SUVs, something that was not necessarily to be expected given the nature of these vehicles.

Often thought of as imposing and bulky, SUVs are now available in all sizes and above all, as we have just highlighted, at every price point. While you might pay €14,000 for a Dacia Duster or a Ssangyong Tivoli, a Rolls Royce Cullinan will set you back €340,000, a 25:1 price ratio (Fig. 12). However, it should be stated that most models sell for between €30,000 and €40,000. By way of an example, the sales-weighted median price in France is €32,500. 




The brands associated with SUVs

The fact that SUVs are available at such a wide range of prices also stems from one of the key factors in their success: almost every carmaker has entered the segment.  In the minds of many of those interviewed for this 2022 edition of L’Observatoire Cetelem de l’Automobile, SUVs are still associated with the Jeep brand. Indeed, the company is at the top of the list in 1 in 2 countries.

However, this is not the case in the US, the home of Jeep, where it has been overtaken by Ford. And yet, in terms of global sales, the Jeep Compass is ranked “only” 16th. Another brand that scores highly when it comes to recognition is BMW. With three top spots and eight second-place rankings, the German brand’s three-letter moniker is closely associated with the three letters “SUV”. This is hardly surprising, given that BMW’s range of saloon cars is mirrored in its various X-class SUVs.

Toyota completes the podium of brands that best embody the SUV category, with two first-place and numerous third-place spots. This is a result that defies logic, since the Toyota Rav 4 was the top selling SUV in the world in 2019, with 950,000 vehicles sold (source: IHS) (Fig. 13), placing it 4th in the ranking of passenger vehicle sales. Since its launch in 1994, more than 10 million units of the Rav 4 have been sold.




Further down the list, a wide array of brands are associated with the SUV category. This diversity is reflected in the sales figures, with eight different brands occupying the top eight positions.  When it comes to annual global sales, Japanese and Korean carmakers lead the way, with only the Volkswagen Tiguan and the Chevrolet Equinox getting a look-in, securing third and eighth place, respectively. Volkswagen also enjoys a strong presence in Europe, with its Tiguan again ranking highly in second place, while its T-Roc comes third in terms of annual sales (Fig. 14).

The Renault Captur stands in the way of German domination by securing the top spot, if only narrowly, with 179,000 units sold.



Sub-section 5
A target for widespread criticism
One issue that seems to stick to SUVs like glue is that of pollution. And again on this topic, the differences between owners and non-owners of SUVs are marked. 36% of non-owners think that SUVs pol
Sub-section 7
Wide ranging appeal
Although, as we have pointed out, the term SUV and its definition are based on a somewhat ambiguous identity, with boundaries that shift from one country to the next and according to whether or not