"There's no question that the minivan segment suffered in the past few years from the growing SUV product offerings," Bruno Ancelin, head of Renault's Megane family, was quoted as saying by Autonews.
The European minivan sector was severely damaged by the economic downturn, with sales dropping from 1.5 million units in 2007 to 1.2 million units in 2008, according to figures provided by the same source. Furthermore, the decline is expected to deepen this year, with around 800,000 units projected to be sold across the main European markets.
But companies eyeing this class are far from being disinterested in the European minivan market, with several important manufacturers planning to bring new models this year. For instance, Toyota will soon debut the new Verso, Ford will rely on C-Max while Volkswagen bets all-in on the Touran. Furthermore, Peugeot will make its first steps in this class with a new 308-based model that will be offered in both five- and seven-seat configurations.
"There will be be an abundant offer of new minivans this year, and the segment should gain back some of its market share," Ancelin said. "There is an enormous fleet of existing Scenic vehicles out there, across Europe, and we will be fighting to convert them to the new Scenic."