AT FIRST glance it would seem a no-brainer for car makers: if you don’t already sell an SUV (sport utility vehicle), build one and get it onto the market fast. After all, the SUV market has grown 38% in the past 10 years to become the third bestselling segment, after superminis and small family cars. These days 50% of cars sold around the world are SUVs.
However, reports in Autocar suggest some high-end car makers are rethinking their plans for new SUVs for fear that they may not be quite the hot ticket they once were.
The supercar maker Lamborghini unveiled its Urus concept at the 2012 Beijing motor show but repeated delays in an official announcement are casting doubt on its future. The setback has been attributed to the “precarious state of the world’s economy and continued unrest in the Middle East”. According to Stephan Winkelmann, president of Lamborghini, the parent company, Audi, still has not given the project a green light.
Aston Martin is also said to be reconsidering its SUV model. The Lagonda concept (pictured below) was shown to the public five years ago and has since undergone design and engineering development work in co-operation with Mercedes-Benz, it is claimed. Development costs and worries over levels of demand could kill the project. Marek Reichman, design director, told Autocar: “I won’t say definitely yes and I won’t say definitely no.”
Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce says it is continuing to look into the idea seriously but the design proposals have so far not been up to scratch. “There’s no decision yet,” said Peter Schwarzenbauer, a board member of the BMW Group, which owns the British brand. “If we’re not totally convinced, we’re not going to do it. It’s got to look like a Rolls-Royce.”
One luxury car maker is committed to the idea, at least. Bentley’s SUV, due for launch in 2016, was recently spied lapping the Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit.