The history of the car market teaches us, that the only constant is change...
...and that Croatia has the largest share of small SUVs in Europe
Let us look a bit into the past, in the distant year of 2001. At that time, 15 million diesel or gasoline cars were sold in Europe. We drove Golfs, Astras, Passats, Corsas and Fiat Puntos. SUVs were rare. At the time, we said that they belong to a niche class. Puntos.
Conventionally designed cars, i.e. hatchbacks, sedans and station wagons, represented as much as 87.6 percent of the market.
MPVs (minivans) achieved a modest 8.8 percent of the market share. However, their time was yet to come, the share had already grown to 14 percent in 2006. It is true that they have never achieved success in Croatia. That is why SUVs were even more popular.
Let us also remember the classic business cars, Volkswagen Passat, Ford Mondeo, Audi A4, BMW Series 3, Honda Accord... In 2001, they had 10.6 percent of the market.
Korean brands Hyundai and Kia celebrated sales of 285,000 vehicles and a 1.9 percent market share. it took them more than two decades to achieve this position.
What happened to the SUV?
In 2001, we barely knew them. On the roads, we saw Mercedes-Benz ML, BMW X5, Toyota Rav4, Land Rover Freelander and Hyundai Santa Fe. Their share was 3.6 percent, which means that sales in Europe in 2001 did not even reach 600,000 vehicles. Then it happened, slowly but surely. In 2006, the share of SUVs doubled to 7.4 percent; in 2011, it reached 13.6 percent.
We did not think about electric cars back in 2001. They were the first to enter the market at the end of the first decade of this millennium. In 2016, for example, they were already quite visible, as sales reached almost one hundred thousand vehicles. The best-selling model that year was the Renault Zoe with 21,000 vehicles sold. However the share of electric vehicles still reached a very modest 0.6 percent.
It was like that in the quite distant past. In between there was an economic crisis, a market crash and a resurgence.
We are entering 2016
In 2016, for example, European car sales reached the figures from 2001. It reached exactly 15.1 million vehicles.
So would you say that everything remained unchanged? Not really. The share of classically designed cars fell from 87.6 to 65.4 percent. Minivans were also less and less popular; in 2016, they occupied only 8 percent of the market, i.e. less than in 2001.
The middle class of sedans and station wagons fell even more, from 10.6 to 4.1 percent.
However, we finally accepted Korean brands in Europe, because the sales of Kia and Hyundai jumped to 929 thousand vehicles, and the market share to 6.1 percent.
Sports utility vehicles or SUVs advanced even faster. In 2016, they already won 26.6 percent of the market.
In addition, when European policy increased CO2 reduction targets, it seemed for a moment that the trend for SUVs (which by design use more fuel and emit more emissions) would stop and turn in the other direction. However, that didn't happen. The trend just continued.
And how is it today, 2023?
The war in Ukraine and problems due to the acute shortage of components, and before those two years of the coronavirus, have seriously reduced the car market. This decreased from 15.1 million in 2016 to 11.3 million last year.
In the meantime, the cards were fairly shuffled in some classes. Judging by sales in the first half of 2022, the trend is as follows:
The share of classically designed cars decreased to only 37.1 percent. Let us remember that in 2001 they had as much as 87.6 percent of the market.
MPVs have almost disappeared from the market, reaching only 1.7 percent share.
The middle class grew from 4.1 to 5.8 percent. So what if most players have left the game? A few strong players remain in it: Volkswagen Passat and Škoda Superb, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C and Audi A4. However, they did not increase their share. The Tesla Model 3 managed to do this, which belongs to this class, although it has an electric drive.
The Korean brands Hyundai and Kia have established themselves well in the European market in the last six years. Compared to 2016, sales increased from 929,000 to 1.06 million vehicles. But as the market shrank, the share of the two brands grew by 50 percent from 6.1 to 9.4 percent.
SUVs have adapted to environmental regulations with efficient drives and achieved a record 49.5 percent market share. This means that every second car sold in Europe is an SUV design. The most popular were C SUV cars, for example Volkswagen Tiguan, Kia Sportage and others.
Croatia also plays an important role in this class, which last year had the largest share of B SUV cars in Europe, reaching 31.7 percent. Nowhere in Europe were cars of this class so popular. Neighboring Slovenia is only in fifth place in terms of the share of B SUVs with 26.9 percent.
Electric cars, however, seem to be a new trend that is showing rapid growth. In the whole year 2022, electric cars occupied 13 percent of the European market. Together with plug-in hybrids, the share reached as much as 22 percent. This means that every fifth car was equipped with a rechargeable battery.
If we go further and look at average sales in Germany, which is considered the largest European market, the situation is even more incredible. Germans bought 314,000 cars in December, of which 32 percent were electric, and 55 percent were electric and plug-in hybrids combined. For ease of understanding, it should be noted that this month the Germans reduced subsidies for electric cars from 6,000 to 4,500 euros, and abolished them for plug-in hybrids.
Anyway, in 2001 or 2016, did you believe how the car market developed. That instead of diesel station wagons or small petrol cars, we will buy sport utility vehicles and electric cars!
Probably not, neither did us. Taking all this information into account, it is much easier to believe that the only constant in the car market is change and that electric cars are indeed coming to our region. And this is happening at a very high speed.