The SUV has, now that it’s 2016, long since carved out a place of its own in society. As a family car, an elegant urban vehicle, a symbol of unlimited personal driving pleasure. Sometimes it is all of this at once. “In a sense, the compact SUV is the Swiss knife of cars,” says Lutz Fügener, Professor of Transportation Design at the Pforzheim University of Applied Sciences. “People who drive it have the feeling of being able to do everything, of being prepared for practically anything.”
Fügener also considers the origins of Europe’s enthusiasm for the SUV to have emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s – and the resulting opening of the former Eastern bloc countries to Europe and the USA. “Big SUVs in particular were very much in demand in the eastern markets in the early 1990s. A number of different factors played a role in this: a heightened desire for security, the inferior road conditions in many places and the general idea of how to present yourself in public as a car driver.”
Some of the models that were developed with an eye to demand in the East were then sold – as streamlined versions – in western markets with similar success. Viewed in this light, the SUV boom can also be attributed to a marketing coup by the automobile industry. It then took hold in a number of economically emerging countries, such as China and India. Most recently, sales of luxury, imported vehicles took a palpable turn on the Chinese market, however this has scarcely affected the trend to off-roaders there. A company like ŠKODA that produces locally in China, for example, can also report growth in YETI sales in the Asian markets for 2016.