European Markets Will Keep Wagons Alive, Despite Slumping Sales

Buying a station wagon has always been a practical solution to one’s needs for additional luggage space, as opposed to what you get with traditional sedans or hatchbacks.

However, growing families nowadays can just as easily opt for an SUV or a crossover, a segment which held a 34% market share in Europe last year, compared to just 11% for wagons, according to JATO Dynamics.

Going forward, the wagon market is estimated to shrink to 1.5 million units by 2025, from 1.7 million this year and nearly 2 million back in 2016, which is why even established “wagon-builders” such as Citroen, Nissan, Alfa Romeo and Honda no longer sell such models in Europe. Toyota meanwhile only has one wagon model, while Renault, Peugeot and Ford only have two apiece – for now.

“To be honest, we thought about replacing the Clio station wagon, but in the end we decided not to do so,” said Renault exec Olivier Brosse.

In 2017, Europe accounted for 72% of global wagon sales, and markets such as Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic are the continent’s top 3 countries in terms of market share for this body style, as reported by Autonews Europe.

“Germany is a big wagon market and it’s not going away,” said LMC Automotive exec, Pete Kelly. Germany however only accounted for 17% of wagon sales in the first half of 2019 – it was in fact Sweden that held a massive 31% market share, with the Czech Republic at 21%.

“Wagons aren’t on the way out totally because there’s a diehard group of buyers who identify with them completely,” added Kelly. “You might see one or two drop out, but for manufacturers heavily dependent on Europe and Germany, wagons are best.”

One reason why some buyers still prefer wagons even over SUVs and crossovers is that unless you own a mid-size or even large SUV, you won’t get as big a rear loading area as you would with some wagons.

Also read: Jaguar To Drop Wagons And Manuals In America

As for which wagons are currently the most popular in Europe, models such as the Skoda Fabia and Renault Clio stand out in the small segment, while the Octavia and the Focus dominate the compact class. As for midsize and large models, buyers are gravitating towards the VW Passat and Audi A4, or the Audi A6 and BMW 5-Series respectively.

In the future, if SUVs and crossovers are forced to decrease in height due to aerodynamic requirements, station wagons might actually become popular again.

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