Station wagons are as old as the automotive industry. They were born as work vehicles to transport goods. Over the years, they have been the perfect mobility solution for families who want the comfort of a sedan, but with more cargo space.
They gained market share in North America and then in Europe. Today, however, you will hardly see it on the streets. That is, with the exception of the Old Continent
The fate of the station wagon – or plantation in England and damage in France – began to change when the first minivans were introduced. The enthusiasm faded in the US market, just as it never really took off in most Asian markets. However, Europe continues to be a safe haven, although this long-roofed family machine has clearly lost its appeal due to the growing popularity of SUVs.
64 Percent of Global Station Wagon Sales In Europe
Although their sales volume is down 20 percent in 2021 compared to the previous year, the demand for station wagons in Europe is by far the highest in the world. Volume represented nearly two-thirds of all global sales at 64 percent, with more than 1 million units sold out of a total of 1.6 million.
In fact, Europe is a market where station wagons have the highest market share in passenger car sales. Last year they accounted for 8.3 percent of volume. Not bad, considering the intense competition from SUVs.
The rest of the world bought 574,000 station wagons last year, up 4 percent. Sales in the United States and Canada were 183,000 units, down 4 percent. The third largest market is Russia and the former Soviet republics with 140,000 units, up 4 percent. The traditional Pepper Carriage is still a valid choice for many consumers in the region, reaching second place in terms of market share, at 7.1 percent.
Japan-Korea is the fourth largest market and China is fifth with only 107,000 units, but to the top 34 percent. Although demand has increased since 2020, carts are not an attractive product to most consumers in the geographic area. This is why this segment is more or less doomed. Without China, it is difficult to see future developments.
A Question About Perception
Public perception of station wagons changes according to the market. For example, you rarely see it on the streets of Latin America, and that’s because people there associate it with hearses. They’re just “uncool” cars to drive.
On the other side of the world, they are considered pretty cool in a market like Italy. Consumers there hardly think of sedans, but still see the wagon as a real family car with a sporty, useful and attractive soul. The same goes for Germany, where it’s not uncommon to see the Audi RS6 Avant cruising at top speed on the Autobahn.
Further north, station wagons are still highly regarded as capable family vehicles in countries like Sweden and Norway. They are considered an ideal mode of transportation for the harsh winter conditions. Volvo and the late Saab are two great examples of popular station wagons.
In the United States, the train situation changed dramatically after the arrival of minivans. The latter is bigger, wider, and has a higher driving position, like an SUV. Currently, consumers in the United States have less than 10 carriage options to choose from.
The author of the article, Felipe Munoz, is JATO dynamics Automotive Industry Specialist.