Over the next five years, the US Big Three automotive manufacturers are in line to gain the most from the strong growth of the Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV) segment, according to consultant The Planning Edge’s (TPE) 2002 Future of Crossover Utility Vehicles study.

CUVs are the fastest growing vehicle segment in the North American vehicle industry and US sales will climb from 1.4 million vehicles during the 2002 calendar year to 2.9 million units in 2007. The study says that during that timeframe, the Big Three’s CUV segment share will climb from about 40% to approximately 51% of the market, and their overall CUV sales will expand by almost 875,000 vehicles.

TPE defines CUVs as front-wheel-drive products that combine the attributes of both cars and trucks and its study divides CUVs into five sub-segments: hatch, wagon, small, mid-size, and luxury.

Among the key findings were: The five CUV sub-segments appealed to different types of people; Generation Y showed significantly more interest in CUVs than did any other generation; CUVs will be a segment without a superstar because the segment will be built around low- and mid-volume niche oriented vehicles; vehicle makers will need to react quickly to introduce new or updated CUV products to meet customer’s changing expectations for this segment; the Mid-Size car segment, followed by the Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle segment, will lose the most market share from the emergence of CUVs. Contrary to many reports, CUVs will have a smaller impact on Minivans.

TPE’s study includes both industry analysis from the company’s extensive expertise on the topic and quantitative analysis, which was derived from the responses of over 3,500 consumer participants.  The study also contains a detailed five year forecast for current and future CUVs from such manufacturers as VW, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Hyundai, KIA, General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler.