Has the SUV growth spurt finally reached an end? Analysts at Jato Dynamics have suggested it might have.

Over the last six years, SUVs have been a consistent driver of growth for Europe. As the market started to recover between 2011 and 2013 following the economic downturn, increasing buying power and demand shifted from hatchbacks, wagons and MPVs, to SUVs.

And, in 2019 – before the tangible impact of COVID-19 had taken hold – SUVs registered 6.03m units in Europe. They accounted for 38.3% of the total market – a record for the industry. This year, however, the state of play has changed dramatically. OEMs are no longer experiencing rapid growth, with the whole industry searching for positive signs going into 2021.

For the majority of the year the market share of SUVs remained stable, between 40% to 41%. However, their registrations fell by 13% in November, and 21% YTD when compared to 2019. Regardless of this, between January and November, the market share of SUVs jumped from 38% in 2019 to 40.4% this year.

Global analyst Felipe Munoz said: “The market has benefited hugely from a wider SUV offering provided this year. But with the impact of COVID-19 still in full force, demand is no longer growing in parallel to new product launches, nor at such a fast pace.”

Tallies vary slightly depending on how many countries are counted in. JATO said November had seen a double-digit year on year drop in European new car registrations, as part of the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and pegged the fall in 27 countries at 13% to 1,045,129 new cars (ACEA today said 12%).

November 2020 saw the lowest volume for that month since 2014, when just 989,500 units were registered.

YTD volume was off 26% to 10.71m units between January and November – the lowest YTD figures so far this century.

Munoz said of that: “The global pandemic and its impact on mobility has been extremely painful for the automotive industry, indeed more painful than any other economic crisis that has hit Europe over the last two decades.”

Conversely to SUVs, B and C cars experienced declines below the overall average, in fact, their market share increased in November due to new arrivals and a more competitive electrified offering.

Golf retains lead

The overall ranking by models in November confirmed the Volkswagen Golf kept its position as the most popular car in Europe. The hatchback registered 24,800 units in November – just short of 255,000 units since January.

Only two SUVs made it into the top 10 – the Peugeot 2008, followed by the Renault Captur. Further down the ranking, Ford Puma, Volvo XC40, Audi A3, Renault Zoe, Volkswagen ID.3, Kia Niro, Mercedes GLA, Skoda Kamiq, Jeep Compass, Mercedes GLB, Nissan Juke, Audi Q3 Sportback, Kia Xceed, Suzuki Ignis, and BMW 2-Series, all posted healthy results.