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Millennials buying up SUVs for their economy

80% think SUVs have become eco-friendlier and 25% would consider buying one

Published: February 3, 2017, 9:30 PM
Updated: February 8, 2017, 3:44 AM

2016 Ford EcoSport

2017 Ford Escape

Many are wondering why the utility vehicle seams to be on the comeback trail in new vehicle sales but the reason is simply that more people like them … but it may not be the buyers you would think.

Ford of Europe research has shown that Millennials, known for their social conscience, willingness to share and revolutionary spending habits, are changing their minds about the traditionally gas-guzzling SUVs.

On average, 4 in 5 Millennials surveyed think that SUVs have become more eco-friendly over the past five years, and 25% of them in the market for a new vehicle would consider buying one.

When you consider that new SUV sales are up 21% year over year in Europe, that would pretty much account for the uptick in sales. In the US, SUV sales have gone from 50% of new sales in 2013 to 63% this past year.

2015 Ford Edge

Most of that has been attributed to plunging fuel prices, which allowed buyers to justify bigger, less fuel-efficient vehicles. But the Ford survey of 5,000 young buyers (17-34 year olds who are in the market for a new vehicle in the next 12 months) in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, indicated the reason they would consider buying an SUV is because they consider them fuel efficient and environmentally-friendly.

Ford introduced three new SUVs in Europe last year — EcoSport, Edge and Kuga (the North American Escape) — all of which were powered by the company’s EcoBoost engines (turbocharged powerplants that grant the power of the larger engines buyers expect in larger vehicles, but with the efficiencies that come with their smaller displacements), and the company is working on five other ones, including an all-new fully electric SUV, for the 2020 model year.

“SUV sales are rising faster than any other type of vehicle in Europe, and eco-conscious Millennials are a driving force behind growing SUV demand,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales & Service, Ford of Europe. “Customers are discovering the fuel-efficiency offered by advanced engines like our new (118-hp) 1.5-litre TDCi diesel in the new Kuga, and the multi-award-winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine in the Ford EcoSport.”

Designed to combat the fully electric Chevrolet Bolt, the new electric-SUV entry is reported to carry a range of over 480 km (which, the company points out, is enough to get from London to Paris on a full charge).

Ford Focus RS - The Ford Focus RS is the latest hot hatch on the market. Ford has installed a 345-hp 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder that gets matched to only one choice of transmission – a six-speed manual that's ready for lots of fun. It's not only fast around the track, but its agility is impressive when cornering. Choose between four drives modes: Normal, Sport, Track and Drift.

And in probably the most blatant example of role-reversal, Ford research indicated that older buyers are buying up the youth-intended high-performance versions of small and medium size cars, such as hot hatchbacks like the Fiesta ST, and Focus ST and RT, and the Ford Mustang (which has only been available in the European theatre for a couple years).