The station wagons are as old as the automotive industry. Initially, these were work vehicles for transporting goods. Over the years, however, they have become the perfect mobility solution for families who wanted the comfort of a sedan, but with more cargo space.
They gained market share in North America, then in Europe. But today however, we see much less of them on the roads, with the exception of the Old Continent.
The fate of station wagons, otherwise called “estate” or “wagon” among our neighbors, began to change with the arrival of the first minivans. Enthusiasm waned in the US market, just as it had never really taken off in most Asian markets. However, Europe remains a haven of peacealthough “family cars” have clearly lost their appeal due to the growing popularity of SUVs.
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Nearly two out of three station wagons are sold in Europe
Although their sales volume decreased by 20% in 2021 compared to the previous year, demand for station wagons in Europe is by far the highest in the world. The Old Continent accounts for 64% of global sales, with just over a million units out of a global total of 1.6 million.
Global station wagon sales in 20219, 2020 and 2021
In effect, Europe is the market where extended roof cars recorded their highest market share in car sales. Last year they represented 8.3% volume. A good resistance given the strong competition from SUVs.
In the rest of the world, 574,000 station wagons were sold last year, an increase of 4%. Sales to United States and Canada totaled 183,000 units, a decrease of 4%. the third market the most important was the Russia and the former Soviet republics with 140,000 units, an increase of 4%. Traditional Lada station wagons remain a popular choice for many consumers in this region, to the point of ranking second in terms of market share with 7.1%.
the Japan-Korea was the fourth market most important and China arrives in fifth place with only 107,000 units, but up 34%. Although demand has increased since 2020, station wagons are not an attractive product for most consumers in these regions. This is why this segment is more or less doomed. Without China, it is difficult to envisage future developments.
Estate car sales by market: Top 20 in 2021
A matter of perception
The public’s perception of station wagons changes depending on the market. For example, they are rarely seen on the streets of Latin America, as people associate them with hearses or funeral cars. They are simply “uncool” cars to drive.
On the other hand, they are considered “cool” cars in markets like Italy. There, consumers hardly envision a sedan, but regard station wagons as true family cars with a sporty, useful and attractive soul. The same goes for Germany.
Further north, stop cars have a real concept of family capability in countries like Sweden and Norway. They are considered the ideal vehicle for harsh winter conditions. Volvo and the late Saab are two good examples of popular station wagons.
The best-selling station wagons in the world in 2021
In the United States, their situation has changed dramatically since the arrival of minivans. The latter are larger, more spacious and have a higher driving position, just like SUVs. Today, consumers can choose from less than ten options.