Sport utility vehicles worldwide - Statistics & Facts
The popularity of the sport utility vehicle (SUV) segment has been increasing since the early 90s of the past century, with the Toyota RAV4 remaining the first of the best-selling SUV models worldwide in 2020. In nine years, the volume of SUVs in operation worldwide increased by close to six times the 2010 volume, reaching 200 million units in 2019. SUVs represented some 29.6 million global car sales a year later, in 2020, with electric SUVs adding another 1.1 million units sold. This sizeable market is largely credited to the Jeep brand, which launched its first product in 1945 and is now owned by Stellantis.
Slow shifts in the worldwide market
Between January and June 2019, every third passenger vehicle sold was a sport utility vehicle. During that time, China and the United States have emerged as the largest SUV markets, with Germany being the leading European market.
U.S. quarterly SUV sales between the first quarter of 2020 and 2021 have overall increased., with the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V leading the sales. By June 2021, SUVs represented around 8.8 percent of the total U.S. light vehicle market, behind crossovers, pickups, and small cars. Concurrently, sales of SUVs and off-road vehicles in Germany topped 930,000 units in 2020, with SUVs recording the highest volume of new registrations. German automakers were also the most successful European car manufacturers in China, with the Volkswagen Tiguan ranking fifth for the best-selling SUV models in China in 2020. However, the Chinese market was already grappling with a stalling auto market before the coronavirus pandemic.
The COVID-19 market downturn
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was most visible in the revenues of leading SUV producers. In 2019, Toyota and Volkswagen recorded the highest brand value, at over 52 and 41 billion U.S. dollars respectively. Toyota’s net revenue dropped to under 30 trillion Japanese yen (around 271.9 billion U.S. dollars, with an exchange rate of 1 Japanese yen equal to 0.0091 U.S. dollars as of August 23rd, 2021) in 2020 and had fallen again by 2021. Volkswagen also recorded a dip in sales revenue in 2020, after it reported its highest sales turnover since 2006 in 2019.
A bigger environmental focus by governments and vehicle users impacted the market at around the same time as the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. In the United States, one of the largest passenger vehicle markets, President Biden outlined a plan for around 50 percent of new vehicles to be electric by 2030. The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transport further planned for new fuel-efficiency standards to offset pollution. This shift is underway: SUVs have seen their carbon dioxide emission levels decrease to 293 grans per mile for 2020 models. Furthermore, Tesla’s Model Y was the market leader for plug-in electric crossover and SUVs worldwide in 2020.
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