Even though the vast majority of the car buying public these days seems to be leaning towards SUVs, pushing such vehicles popularity ever higher, some top industry execs say this won’t continue as vehicles become electric. In fact, Citroen CEO Vincent Cobée belives the SUV’s demise has already begun, even though this is contradicted by cold, hard sales numbers.
Cobée spoke to AutoExpress and said that even though crossovers and SUVs have accounted for almost 50 percent of all new car sales in Europe in recent years, he still believes this isn’t sustainable and won’t last. He says SUVs biggest Achilles’ heel is their aerodynamics, which means they require more energy than a sedan.
This, of course, has a negative impact on range numbers, which are hugely important in electric car buyers’ eyes. He points to the new e-C4, which replaces a traditional hatchback yet is a slightly tall coupe-like fastback model – it rides taller than a traditional car, but nowhere near as tall as some crossovers and SUVs, and he says it’s all the better for it.
And there are more cars that aren’t quite crossovers (especially among EVs), like the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6 or the Jaguar I-Pace, yet are called crossovers in order to make them appealing to those looking for that specific type of vehicle. This approach has the benefit of also attracting buyers who are trying to avoid buying a taller vehicle.
Cobée said that “the world of SUVs is done” even though “numbers are not telling me I’m right.” He goes on to explain that in the not too distant future it will come down to battery capacity – SUVs need more of it to match their sedan counterparts’ range, and if taxes will be imposed on EVs based on their battery size, then he believes that will expedite the SUV’s demise.
He added that “people will start limiting weight and battery sizes, either through tax, through incentives, through regulation, through naming and shaming.”
However, there is certainly risk in moving away from SUVs today when the market still demands them and the CEO’s views may not end up ultimately reflected in company policy. Citroen also seems to not be interested in making large EVs with big batteries – all Citroen-badged EVs today draw from a 50 kWh battery pack and we know of no plans for anything that would need a larger battery than that.
In fact, Citroen’s latest concept gives a glimpse at the manufacturer’s near-future philosophy for developing its EVs. The Oli study (pictured above) has lots of off-roader design cues, but it’s actually envisioned as a small city runabout with a focus on keeping its weight down – think of it like an Ami on steroids and a glimpse of the kind of vehicles it might put into production in coming years.