Automakers are bringing in new models to tap growing opportunities in the B-SUV segment.
IHS Markit perspective
- Significance: Hyundai has introduced its all-new Kona CUV, while Citroën has revealed its new C3 Aircross compact SUV.
- Implications: The surge in the number of models in the compact SUV categories has lured younger customers, who prefer the smaller, more fuel-efficient models with affordable price tags. The global B-SUV category grew from 951,602 units in 2011 to 4.45 million units in 2016.
- Outlook: IHS Markit expects that the Kona will register peak global sales of 224,000 units by 2019, while the C3 Aircross will witness highest sales of 138,180 units by 2018.
At an event in South Korea, Hyundai has introduced its all-new Kona CUV. The small crossover utility vehicle (CUV) goes on sale in South Korea in late July 2017, with North America and Europe expected to follow by the end of the year. The Kona is designed for "urban pleasure-seeker",' according to a company press statement, and offers high levels of technology, as well as active and passive safety features. Euisun Chung, vice-chairman of Hyundai Motor Company, said in a statement, "With the Kona, we have created a stylish and highly functional compact SUV, perfectly suited to the needs of customers who pursue challenging, action-filled lifestyles. We aim to set new standards for the company SUV segment, with appealing design, cutting-edge connectivity and class-leading safety features." The front design incorporates the company's latest family element, the Cascading Grille, in this case flanked by wing-type fenders. Overall, the design is meant to provide durability, demonstrating a readiness for extreme activities. Hyundai claims the interior will deliver best-in-class space as well. The interior will also boast Hyundai's advanced infotainment features, on a monitor that appears to float. Riding on an all-new platform, Hyundai notes the SUV's ground clearance and high seating position. The new platform enabled Hyundai to optimise the under-floor layout and reduce central tunnel intrusion from the four-wheel-drive and exhaust system, along with optimising suspension component layout in the rear, contributing to a lower floor and seating position. Global powertrain offerings will include a 149-ps 2.0-litre MPI Atkinson engine mated to a six-speed automatic, or a 177-ps 1.6-litre turbo GDI mated to Hyundai's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. European buyers will be able to choose a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine as well. Some markets will also be able to choose a 1.6-litre diesel. Available active safety features will include forward-collision avoidance, lane-keeping assist, high-beam assist, and driver attention warning, among others.
Citroën has revealed its new C3 Aircross compact sport utility vehicle (SUV). Inspired by the C-Aircross concept car presented at the Geneva Motor Show 2017 and featuring classic Citroën design cues, the new C3 Aircross brings a breath of fresh air to the compact SUV segment, according to a company press release. "After the new C5 Aircross, a C-segment SUV presented in Shanghai, Citroën is accelerating its international SUV offensive with a second model. Unveiled today in Paris, the new Citroën C3 Aircross Compact SUV will be launched in Europe between now and the end of the year. Bringing together all of Citroën's expertise in cabin space, modular design and comfort, this people-minded SUV stands out in the B-SUV segment with its unique body styling. It has a different mindset, a source of protection and adventure, consistent with the expectations of customers today," said Citroën CEO Linda Jackson. The vehicle is powered by a choice of PureTech 82, 110, and 130 gasoline (petrol) engines, as well as BlueHDi 100 and 120 diesel engines. The engines are either mated to a six-speed manual transmission or EAT6 automatic gearbox. Some markets will be able to choose a HDi 90 diesel engine as well. Safety features on the vehicle will include active safety brake, lane departure warning system, blind-spot monitoring system, driver assistance alert, and hill assist, among others.
Outlook and Implications
A prominent trend in the global automotive industry is the emergence of B-segment SUVs. The surge in the number of models in the compact SUV categories has lured younger customers who prefer the smaller, more fuel-efficient models with affordable price tags over more traditional A- and B-segment vehicles. According to IHS Markit's light-vehicle sales forecast data, which include passenger vehicles and light commercial vehicles, the global B-SUV category grew from 951,602 units in 2011 to 4.45 million units in 2016. The segment's market share went up from 1.3% in 2011 to 4.8% in 2016. Automakers are bringing in new models to tap growing opportunities in this segment. A total of 63 nameplates were sold in the B-SUV segment during 2016, compared with just 21 in 2011. IHS Markit expects the global B-SUV segment to grow to 7.46 million units by 2020.
Meanwhile, the new Kona is Hyundai's first foray into the B-SUV segment. The vehicle will also be joined by its affiliate Kia Stonic this year. IHS Markit projects the Kona will see peak global sales of 224,000 units by 2019, joining the growing B-CUV segment. We project relatively even regional sales for the Kona. While the Kona is expected to see the highest volumes in Europe (about 67,000 units in 2019), this will be compared with about 50,000 units each in Greater China and North America, with Japan/Korea contributing about 41,000 units. The split reflects global popularity of the segment as well.
IHS Markit also forecasts that the new Citroën C3 Aircross will witness highest global sales of 138,180 units by 2018, with Europe accounting for around 70.1% or 98,070 units. and Greater China accounting for 26.3% or 36,384 units.
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