A sport utility vehicle (SUV) is a vehicle similar to a station wagon or estate car, and are usually equipped with four-wheel drive for on- or off-road ability. Some SUVs include the towing capacity of a pickup truck with the passenger-carrying space of a minivan or large sedan.
Since SUVs are considered light trucks in North America, and often share the same platform with pick-up trucks, at one time, they were regulated less strictly than passenger cars under the two laws in the United States, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act for fuel economy, and the Clean Air Act for emissions. Starting in 2004, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began to hold sport utility vehicles to the same tailpipe emissions standards as cars.
Fiat has sold overwhelmingly in USA and Canada.
Canadian car market is up 6% to 1,68 million units, and has its peculiarities compared to USA. In Canada C-Segment sedans are much more popular, counting for 23% of the market, behind SUVs (C-SUV are the most popular as well). It is another market where Fiat-Chrysler has a relevant position. In 2012 it occupied second place after Ford, but ahead of GM. The group has a production plant where it produces all minivans and E-Segment sedans. In 2012, Fiat-Chrysler sold 244.000 units, up 6%, with all brands increasing their sales, except for Dodge, which counts for 40% of total sales. This Brand, along with Ram, occupies third place among mainstream brands. Then Jeep is the second best-selling SUV Brand after GMC, Chrysler leads against Buick, and Fiat is the leader among mini car brands. 35% of the group's sales corresponded to MPV, followed by pickups and SUVs. The group is very strong in MPV segment, where it controls 49% of it, and A-Segment (the Fiat 500 caught 59% of sales of its segment), and Pickup. In 2013 Fiat-Chrysler can easily rise their sales registrations to 251.000 units, thanks to the introduction of the new Grand Cherokee/Cherokee, and the Dodge Dart (which is expected to have a great performance).
What do Buick, Volvo, Infiniti, Mini, Cadillac, Lincoln, Suzuki and Scion have in common? All were outsold by Fiat in Canada last month.
Sales analyst Tim Cain uncovered the data during his monthly sales research, and data shows gradual increases this year for the 500 in the United States. In Canada, the gains are even better, with Canadians taking to the small, stylish compact car, warts and all. The upcoming 500L should be an equally strong success, and the Punto replacement due at the end of 2013 should provide a strong challenge in the highly competitive compact segment.
A few years ago, while having lunch with a VW Canada sales executive, I was told that VW would have brought the Polo to Canada long ago, but the homologation process (practically identical to the United States) made it difficult to justify. The sales were there, but the added cost of bringing it up comply with various regulations wouldn’t make it feasible. On the other hand, the Polo was sold in Australia, which had a comparable population, more expensive cars and looser regulations.
Traditionally Canadians love small cars, hatchbacks and European brands (though, to be fair, the best-selling vehicle is the Ford F-Series). And the country’s higher gas prices add a further incentive to purchase small, fuel-efficient cars. Although journalists and enthusiasts in both Canada and the United States have long asked for European compact cars (especially diesels) to make their way over to North America, there may finally be a business case for doing so in Canada.
So why not something like the Citroen DS line or the Peugeot 208? The DS line, supposedly Citroen’s premium small car line, could take the fight to everything from the Hyundai Elantra to the VW Golf/Jetta. Citroen execs are even on record about bringing their cars to Canada as far back as 2006. Even SEAT was rumored to be coming in 1994, although such whisperings are now largely the stuff of legend. The 500s two-door body style and small size effectively limits it to a niche category. But the bigger, 4-door Citroens with their increased cargo and passenger room, more powerful engines and larger footprint would be able to attract a whole new type of buyer, while battling established players like the Honda Civic, Hyundai Accent and Volkswagen Golf.
The Francophone angle would play well in Quebec, which comprises a quarter of Canada’s auto market and loves compact, fuel-efficient cars (and stick shifts). In Canada as a whole, diesels are much more widely accepted than the United States, and the fuel is often a few cents cheaper than gasoline. Mercedes-Benz SUVs are widely purchased with BlueTec engines, suggesting that even in the premium segment, consumers are open to the idea of an alternative fuel that isn’t a hybrid.
There are undoubtedly a large number of issues that would prevent near-term sales of new European brands. But it may be something worth examining in the intermediate, especially with the return of Alfa Romeo – a brand that should do even better in Canada, given that it has a wider range of products than Fiat, and the requisite Italian cred. Alfa Romeo also has a distinctive advantage in that Fiat and Chrysler are already here on the ground. Having seen a small sliver of what it took just to establish Kia in Canada (my father acted as their legal representation during those years), it stands to reason that setting up Peugeot, Citroen or any other European brand from scratch would be similarly daunting.
With the best October month since 2007 and an increase by 11% compared to last year, Fiat SpA can yet again look back at a successful month in the United States. 126.185 cars were sold in total. Only the brand Fiat made a slight drop compared to October 2012, even though the new 500L had its best month since introduction with 1.296 units. This big cinquecento has furthermore received the ‘Top Safety Pick’-label by the IIHS, meaning it is a very safe car. The regular 500 and 500C found 2.378 new owners; an increase compared to September, but quite a bit less than in the same month last year (- 36%). Expected is that sales will rise again once the much-wanted 500T with 135hp gets its automatic gearbox. The 500e also found more Californian owners than in any month before.
All American makes grew and especially Jeep was successful as the Americans stormed towards the showrooms for the new Cherokee. This model appeared on the market a few months later than expected, which, according to Sergio Marchionne, is due to extensive quality checks. The Cherokee will be an extremely important model to Jeep in the next few years, and they had to get it right.
In Canada, too, good results were reported with a 4% increase and a total of 18.131 sold cars. 47 months of consecutive growth; again a new record and it was even the best October-month since 2002. The pick-ups of Ram did great, as did the Jeep Wrangler which was the most popular compact SUV of Canada with 1.211 units.