Why Station Wagons Are More Popular In Europe Than America
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Why Station Wagons Are More Popular In Europe Than America


Wagons away Hi, I’m Jack Smith and right now,
it’s station wagon savings time in the west. Time to hit the trail in high
style with all a will comfort, but only a Rambler station
wagon can give you. The station wagon was once a
fixture of American family life. It was a common sight in
American garages and frequently featured in popular culture. These days, however, it has
nearly vanished from US roads. Americans, at least most of them,
just don’t like the segment. And it shows in the tiny number
of wagons sold every year, Americans just don’t like wagons
for whatever reason. We we have rejected the
body style for many years. It’s been declining. You know, we think
back to perhaps some of those movies like National Lampoon’s Vacation, where
a family travels across the country in a wagon. Those days
are long, long behind us. And these days, wagon sales are less
than 2 percent of all industry sales. Meanwhile, crossovers and sport utility
vehicles continue to swallow market share, leading many manufacturers to
believe that if they want to sell a wagon, they need to lift it
a bit, maybe cover it with some cladding and call it a crossover. You want the crossover tag associated
with it because that’s what people are buying and that’s what
they want to buy. At some point, they may want another
tag because it’s no longer cool to own a crossover, an SUV. But right now, that’s
not the case yet. In 2018, consumers around the
world bought just under 2.5 million wagons, roughly a mere 3 percent
of all new cars sold in the United States the segment represents only about
1 to 2 percent of all sales. But in some European countries,
sales are several times that. Wagon’s represented nearly 20 percent of all
sales in Germany and at least a quarter of sales in some
Scandinavian countries, such as Finland and Sweden. wagons also comprised 23 percent
of all sales in Czech Republic, 16 percent in Slovakia and
15 percent in Poland. In Sweden our home country, close to
50 percent of our volume is related to wagons. You have the best residual
values, you have the most loyal consumers. And also that is how
we were live in Sweden. You know, nature is very important. We do exactly in line with Americans. You know, it’s a lot of football and
a lot of sports associated with our kids. So we need a space. And so the legacy of wagons
is really in our DNA. Also you see them all over the place
and the roads in Sweden and in Europe. More than 70 percent of all wagon’s
sold in the world are sold in Europe. There the wagon is still seen
as an efficient blend of function and performance, especially when fuel
prices can be quite high. In Europe, the station wagon
continues to be the prototype for many families, even though
it they have lost traction as well in Europe. Despite the fact
that Europe is the world’s wagon stronghold, data do suggest that sport
utilities are eating into its share on that continent as well. Of course, on the other end of
the spectrum, US data show that sport utility vehicles have completely eclipsed the
wagon as the family hauler of choice. Wagons have steadily lost share
in the US new car market from 3.69 percent of new car sales
in 2008 to 1.4 percent in 2018. Cross-overs and SUVs grew their share of the
new car market in the US by 20 percent from 2008 to 2018. They now make up nearly half
of all new car sales. For now, wagons have managed to find a
way to keep a foothold, albeit a small one in America. For example, the segment straddling Subaru
Outback has been a tremendously successful product for that company
part wagon, part crossover. The Outback was introduced in the 1995
model year as a variant of the Subaru legacy, but was soon spun out
into its own distinct brand and has become something of a phenomenon. The outback alone accounted for the vast
majority of wagon sales in the US. Of that, 1.4 percent of the US market wagons have
the outback alone makes up 1.2 percent. In other words,
almost all of it. That means all wagons sold by all
other brands combined would account for just 0.2 percent of the total
US new car market. So when we talk about wagons,
we’re essentially talking about one model with with a very decent industry share
and then a handful of other models that, quite frankly, don’t
sell very well. The outback is an example of how
wagon like vehicles can be successfully marketed in the United States and perhaps
gives an idea of how they are likely to look in the
future if they stick around. Though it retains many of the basic features
of a wagon, the car is lifted a bit and covered in plastic cladding to
give it more of a rugged outdoor appearance. It retains the basic silhouette
of the wagon, but the outback has evolved over time to incorporate
more attributes of SUVs and crossovers Subaru told CNBC. This includes standard all wheel drive, the
ability to tow up to thirty five hundred pounds and a full
eight point seven inches of ground clearance higher than what is
found on many SUVs. The company said they were one of
the early players obviously in this crossover space before the term
crossover was even mentioned. And that’s again when they
were being called wagons. So I think they’ve done well if
they’ve got a very loyal buyer. They’ve expanded into the certainly the
outdoor lifestyle buyer has has has long been a Subaru advocate. So I think, you know, is that as
that continues to to develop and people are more interested in an active, active
lives and in certainly what what super has to offer from
just an honor and capability. But but also on dirt
and on on trails even. The outback shows that selling a wagon in the
US may be a lot easier if it happens to look like
a sport utility vehicle. In fact, it might be one of the
only wagon like vehicles to survive in the United States. But yeah, no question
about it, the wagon market is certainly taking cues from the from
the SUV and crossover segments and adding, as you said, a little
bit of cladding, raising that ground clearance up a little bit to give
it that that view that essentially it can compete with a crossover. That rather dire outlook has not
stopped other automakers from rolling the dice, though. General Motors sells the Buick
Regal Tours X, a US version of the Opel insignia wagon. GM used to sell in Europe
when it owned the Opel brand. Notably, the US version has the
same plastic cladding and slight lift, which is not seen
on the European version. But with a lower center of gravity,
it gives more sedan like driving dynamics and a lower roof for
easy rooftop access key features wagon buyers want in a car. There are several positive signs for wagon
fans elsewhere in the US if they have the cash. Much of the variety in the US wagon
market is found at the higher end, where luxury and high performance can
gloss over the otherwise dowdy and domestic image the wagon has. Given the fact that the countries with
some of the highest wagon sales are Germany and the Scandinavian nations. It makes sense that most of these
premium wagons are from German and Scandinavian automakers. The Swedish brand Volvo is perhaps the
brand best known for wagons, and its among the brands most committed to
the segment in the United States. Though Volvo has lately focused intensely
on building out its lineup of sport utility vehicles, a substantial portion
of its portfolio is still in wagons. I see the
same opportunities in us. So one part of me is a bit
confused that this should be much bigger. The volume should be
much, much, much bigger. But then we have the SUV trend in
the US that probably overlaps that kind of because could get the
space to an SUV. But I would say the wagons
are for me they’re beautiful. And I think you’ll see the cars here,
the size wise that are boxy anymore, and they are not boring. You get both. You get the driving capabilities
as a sedan and you get more space. And also it looks sporty
and that’s what we aim for. Volvo sells the mid-sized V60
wagon and the larger V90. Both can be bought in the cross
country trim, which means the car is lifted and comes with the familiar dark
cladding on the sides of the car. And Volvo also has a 415 horsepower
performance hybrid version of its V 60 bearing Volvos Polestar brand, which
was once its in-house performance shop and now specializes in
making high performance electric vehicles. Mercedes Benz sells its E-Class wagons
in the US, mostly to well-heeled buyers with families. The car sells especially
well in the Northeast. Wagon sales make up a tiny portion
of Mercedes US total zero point seven percent to be exact. But buyers are loyal and they pay an
E 450 for Madoc wagon starts at about sixty $66000 and the higher performance
AMG e63 S starts above one hundred eight thousand dollars. Fellow German automaker Audi said in August
of 2019, it plans to bring the R.S. Six a vaunt wagon to the US. The R.S. Six Avante
is a performance wagon. Audi will sell alongside the eight for
all road wagon it currently offers and the a six all road,
which Audi said in October. It will also be bringing
back to the US. In recent years in the United States, Audi
has only sold its a for all road wagon, which is also a
popular choice among premium wagon buyers. Even Porsche has a
wagon like vehicle. However, the number of wagon loving
diehards seems to be shrinking and many in the industry are not optimistic
that the wagon will make a comeback anytime soon. I just I wonder how many more cracks
at the bat we’re gonna get here from from this forbidden fruit. And these wagons
coming from overseas. So things are getting, you know, even
even slimmer for for a wagon enthusiast out there. And so guide the future for wagons. It’s going to be tough for for
future European wagons, too, to really come to United States. What buyers are more
likely to end up with is a crossover, which some say is really a
wagon in a slightly different form. There isn’t a lot of what I
would call pure wagon development going on right now. So, you know, with that
as a backdrop, the I guess prospects for the wagon
aren’t necessarily strong. But the caveat here is you’re getting
into then that, you know, blurring area where what is a
wagon and what’s a crossover? And a lot of the stuff that is
being developed is, you know, what I would argue is a shorter height twice vehicles
that that have kind of crossover style, but are probably
more like a wagon. Sport utility vehicles do seem to
have certain practical advantages over traditional passenger cars that consumers
seem to find irresistible. Most importantly, their taller height gives
drivers a better view of the road and often more
comfortable upright seating position. Customers also consider them easier to
get in and out of fuel. Economy has also improved on SUVs to
the point where they are often about as efficient as comparably
sized passenger cars. But their image as more rugged, sporty
and versatile vehicles has played a significant role in their appeal,
say many industry watchers. They have become so popular as family
vehicles that they may one day end up with the same reputation wagons
themselves earned over the decades. Practical but deeply uncool.

100 Comments

  • Steve White

    Newsflash 1: Although Subies are mega capable, they did not invent the raised AWD wagon. That would be AMC with their Eagle…one could argue Jeep Wagoneer did, too; imo, though, that's more of a progenitor to the SUV/CUV. Love or hate the raised wagon, you can thank AMC for it.

  • Steve White

    Newsflash 2: Wagons don't sell well in US because outside of Subie, no one markets them well. Bring them — but also show how cool and useful they are — and watch sales go up. "Wagons don't sell here, so manufacturers don't make them" becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I own an '18 TourX and it's one of my favorite rides in 35 years of driving. GM has barely advertised it, so a scant few even know what it is or all that it offers. Same with the cool V60/90 and I'd argue the other imports, too. Yeah, Americans are overweight and that's a factor. But there's a much larger, and more profitable niche for wagons than recent sales indicate.

  • DMS

    Call the Outback whatever you like but I'm quite sure the people who buy it don't see it as a station wagon at all.

    Also this video sucks.

  • Brother LT118

    I have a 2006 six-speed BMW 328xit touring wagon in Florida, often I hear youngsters sayin… oh how nice it is like a low SUV.

  • chaff5

    What they need to do is advertise the height advantage of the wagon. A commercial with a side by side of someone just taking things off the roof while a neighbor struggles to get things on/off their SUV.

  • dobo99

    SUV are horrible cars.
    Very dirty because they are heavy and so they take a huge lot of gas.
    Also you can't freaking park and so you take 2 parking spots. I hate suv drivers.

  • A. Ferreira

    I like SWs and currently have a Peugeot 2008. Peugeot tags it as crossover or SUV I Brazil. In fact it's a lifted wagon. The trunk is super useful.

  • Big Feet

    SUV provides more vertical space than wagon, while wagon has lower gravity and is easier to steer in a sharp turn, which could save you from roll over in some cases. I guess cross over has the best balance out of space and handling.

  • pik nick

    lol Volvo CEO still acting like the company is Swedish, it's now CHINESE OWNED and they produce more and more of them in China.

  • J H

    same channel
    "Why station wagons are more popular in Europe"
    "Americans are not buying as many wagons as they used to"
    yeah, I guess that would do it.

    For me, styling in the wagon segment is unattractive. Either a very boring buick with zero styling appeal (in my opinion), or a beautiful Audi pushing over $100k.

    If I am spending over $45k, I am going to go with the SUV. In this channel's own words SUV's offer the following: higher view of the road, more upright seating position, better off-road capabilities, same gas mileage, and more cargo space.

  • Mc_Pancake

    Ofc you would go for rs6 over suv in germany when you can drive it on autobahn, instead of some hilly roads on countryside usa

  • Marshal Dunnik

    – much easier to run over zombies in an SUV
    – a higher riding vehicle makes you feel superior to other road users
    – SUVs are more effective at conveying an "active lifestyle", whatever that is
    – SUVs with AWD have magic brakes, which make you immune to the laws of physics
    – the tip-over warning on the sunvisor of some SUVs is a conspiracy by wagon enthusiasts, there's no truth to it
    – taller vehicles make it easier to conceal texting while driving

  • Huffle Hog

    We call them estate cars in the UK.

    SUV's are basically a fashion trend of the decade.

    On a like-for-like comparison to the estate car, SUV's are slower, heavier, bigger body, higher centre of mass and larger components required, thus more expense, typically use more fuel, require complex electronics to keep stable in real-world driving, have less internal space for passengers, less boot space.

    Safer? Only if you are hit – otherwise they are more dangerous because they have more blind spots and generate massive force on impact on other vehicles.

    There is no real advantage to an SUV, unless it's a 4×4 to go off road, most are still only 2-wheel drive.

  • Vincent Chen

    An SUV is a lifted Station Wagon with cladding or no cladding. This is a nothing report once you get past all that. The ground hugging Station Wagon is gone for good. The European makes are just noise in the machine of the jacked up Wagons we call SUVs. Leave it to Subaru though to capitalize on what we want as cool and not be the usual. I think Subaru is the king of the reachable Wagon most of us can buy. Most will not buy a 108 thousand dollar wagon, so who cares? Just a name and a look folks. The Wagon went nowhere, except up. Up in price and up in height.

  • Kevin Counihan

    Well one can't buy a wagon if there aren't any for sale. And the SUV's are mostly just big, covered pickups anyway. More profit margin for that segment vehicles. The manufacturers are pushing the buyers into the vehicles where they make the most money, not what the customers want. Once the SUV market appeared the wagons were phased out in favor of the 'New' wagon and minivans. They made the wagons smaller and smaller until they were no longer practical as a wagon, more like a squared off hatchback. Another reason was during the gas crisis the SUV's were classified as a truck and so were exempt from the fuel mileage requirements for passenger vehicles. Oh, and Americans value style over substance anyway. You know, I gotts keep up with the Jones's. 11-07-2019.

  • max_agr

    If they had to care more about fuel efficiency, they’d buy more wagons instead of SUV‘s. Especially diesel wagons do well here in Europe with even some doing 5l/100km

  • HTPC HTPC

    Answer: Americans are snobish, uninformed idiots. And I'm not from Europe, I'm an American. So concerned about reputation and status, they're paving the way for crossovers – the worst of both worlds. Raised height, which results in worse handling than a wagon/car, but not tall enough to be "king of the road" seat height. Not to mention that atrocious dark plastic cladding.

  • Jesus Saldivar

    Crossovers are stupid there too small and people think they are sooo versitle pssh yeah right station wagons are twice as better than a crossover cough chevy trax i mean look at audi making an exciting vehicle coming soon to america the audi rs6 avant and another one that already has been in America the mercrdes benz c63s amg station wagon 4 matic waay better than an crossover cough Buick encore.

  • OldDood

    WELL….If they would make the Station Wagons like they did in the OLD DAYS then they would be Cool Again. LOL
    Meaning…make the rear seat face BACKWARD again…
    That was the coolest thing about a Station Wagon for kids anyways….

  • Your Typical Average Asian Guy

    I always thought station wagons are cool and still are today. Especially the sporty ones ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

  • Caleb Shonk

    If I had enough use for one, I'd prefer to get a station wagon. I like the extra room and capabilities that they offer, plus the fuel efficiency.

  • Johny Sack

    When I was overweight, SUV was perfect for me, now that lost 120lbs, SUV is too big for me. It was easy getting in and coming out, it felt like i was driving a house. I went back to sedans. I think overweight has played a role in vehicle choice.

  • Rex Meng

    for my understanding, US people don't enjoy driving like Europe people~ The culture of driving is also different~ US people like the drag race, but Europe people like bring their car to race track. That's why European car usually have better handling~ and US car usually more comfortable~

  • John LeBeau

    I admit I didn't bother watching this because he is undoubtably wrong. Here is why there are no station wagons anymore:

    Stringent fuel economy regulations imposed on cars in the 1970s had made it practically impossible for automakers to keep selling big station wagons. Yet many Americans still wanted roomy vehicles.

    The answer, Mr. Sperlich and Mr. Iacocca realized, was to make family vehicles that were regulated as light trucks, a category of vehicles that includes pickups. The government had placed far more lenient fuel economy rules on light trucks, as well as more lenient safety and air pollution standards.

    https://www.futureofcapitalism.com/2019/07/how-regulation-killed-the-station-wagon

  • max mackinlay

    Buyers feel safer sitting up higher and are willing to forgo the slight increase in road handling provided by sedans and wagons.

  • Harm Zegt

    The reason why stationwagens are more popular than huge SUV’s in Europe is: road tax! The road tax is measured by the weight of the car and goes from between €400-€6000 a year, per car! Hardly anyone wants to shell out an additional €6000 a year to drive an escalate just for giggles. They rather buy an Audi rs6 performance. Half the road tax, twice the mileage on gas and almost triple the speed!

  • Edwin Braun

    I like that Audi RS6 avant- a lot. Americans would buy it anytime… if it wouldn’t cost hundred plus grand.
    Those wagons are great, but the prices for the good ones are a bit crazy for most families…

  • cell pat

    Maybe we don't climb mountains here in the US, but in the northeast, we have to contend with big snows every year, and the 4 wheel drive system gives the vehicle better traction and more stability on the snow, so that's a big selling point for Subaru. They've been offering AWD on their vehicles since the 70's, and it has caught on with the times. Just to think my dad had to add extra weight on the back of our chevy station wagon, and then only one wheel actually had traction. He had to keep a shovel in the back of it to dig it out. We don't need to do that anymore. We switch the 4×4 on and drive out of the hole. That's a big difference! 👍

  • Kumbaya Kumbaya

    if you are fat and you climb down into a wagon it is very hard for a fat person to gather the strength to lift their body up and climb out from a sitting position. It is much easier to climb into a vehicle from a standing position using the legs and then to get out to have gravity assist you in pulling you down and out of the car.

  • Mark Robby

    Americans shun the Wagons because what the US and Japanese auto companies have offered are boring and cheaply made types. And when the German superior types from Audi or Mec are presented to them, they are shock about the price and prefered the SUV for the price even though those SUV lacks the high performance you have with the European made Wagons.

  • Edwin Padilla

    It’s the price, if you are a high school/college student a used one from 2014-2017 will be in the 7k-22k a new one is In The 26k-40k, but that is at the same range for a Jeep Wrangler, several 4×4 trucks, gladiator is in the 43k with options.
    Then there the weather issue, vehicles have to be lifted because of floods, expensive electric cars have shorted out because of that reason.
    60k-100k+ now that is ridiculous! There are vans, vans that cost over 60k, stupid! :/

  • ralfis1234

    So i live in Europe and i asked my friend when he's gonna propose to his girlfriend, he's answer was: im not ready to buy wagon, i like sedans way more 😀

  • Daniel Roth

    As an owner of a 2013 Jetta Sportwagen TDI, I can say it gets excellent fuel millage. It has the same amount of space as my previous 2005 Grand Cherokee and I save a ton of money driving this every day. I do miss being up high though. Long live the wagon 🙂

  • MacintoshMen

    As an european, I never understood why Americans choose a big SUV as a "family hauler". It's way more expensive, needs more fuel and has in some cases even LESS cargo space than a wagon (Audi Q5 for expample has got less cargo space than my Passat wagon!). Not to forget the taxes are insanely high here for cars with higher horse power figures and maintenance items such as tyres and brakes also cost more. Around here family cars are either wagons or minivans such as a Seat Alhambra or so. SUVs are in my opinion more a lifestyle option and only a very small percentage actually uses their capabilities (towing, offroading, etc)

  • MoparFam 300C

    2006-2008 Dodge Magnum SRT8 was the coolest AND fastest Muscle Wagon ever to be made in the United States!

    ALOT cheaper than a Mercedes AMG or Audi S Line Wagon, hell even the Cadillac CTS-V Wagon they've used to make!

  • PSIJOE

    Hard to buy a wagon when not many people offer them…

    Bring an accord or Camry wagon back and see how it does.

    Make sure to give AWD an option for it as well.

    Crossovers are gross. Wagons are awesome.

  • Haile Xiao

    Crossovers aren't a good substitute for wagons, even if you like the ride height, because they're too short. Case in point: BMW 3-series vs X3, Buick Regal TourX vs any crossover GM makes

  • L R

    Station Wagon, SUV, Mini Van, tiny Car's share the same or very similar front wheel drive platforms. I only buy AWD economy boxes or 4wd truck chassis as we ranch and don't have time to be stuck and walking someplace. I also only run at the minimum 6 ply tires on the gas saver and 10 ply tires on trucks minimum because of the flint. I was going to buy my wife a Subaru Outback Wagon last but they wanted a little to much so I stopped and bought her a CRV.  There isn't enough difference between them to matter as they are just stinker economy boxes and the CRV did better on gas so big deal the idiots call it an SUV. She has any of the ranch trucks to drive and a nice older Toyota Sequoia we keep around for vacation with the boat or hauling eight people down to the lake. My wife and kids also have a little Tracker to drive around in and it gets like 30 MPG just driving around though the bushes.  It has a truck frame and traditional 4X4 orientation, we just moved to the to the family ranch four years ago and my wife and kids wanted a UTV or Jeep and I found one of these for 2 grand. Everyone loves it and the kids are still small. I drive it to work once in awhile or when gas gets expensive. I will never be without something economical when gas goes up again, and it will. The last time gas went up my wife had a new Jeep Hemi Commander and I had a big old truck, but fortunately my father had just given us a little Ford Ranger with a standard trans.  We drove everywhere in the Ranger and 24 mpg was way better than 11 mpg in the Jeep.

  • Candis

    CNBC! How you gonna do a long winded mini doc on station wagons and not mention the Dodge Magnum that was on the market for 3 years (2005-08)? I thought that was a success in America especially with men. Somebody dropped the ball in the research department. I am also surprised no one mentioned a big reason the station wagon is more popular in Europe has to do with their streets are a lot smaller than in the U.S. IDK why there needs to be a resurgence of the wagon anyway. Just let it go like those land boats Cadillac used to make in the 50's.

  • A.B.

    I remember in the 80's and early 90's, the caprice wagon dominated the roads in the middle eastern countries, but nowadays yoi hardly see wagons anymore. As for European brand wagons, they are way too expensive!

  • MacTechG4

    When I was considering my last car purchase, it was narrowed down to VW Golf TDI and Jetta Sportwagen TDI, the Golf got the nod mainly because it had driving lights, heated cloth seats, and paddle shifters on the DSG model*, the JSW had no driving lights, no paddles, and the heated seats were “leatherette” (vynil)

    The JSW has roughly 10 cubic feet of extra cargo room, I saw more value in the features of the Golf

    The Golf was assembled in Germany, the JSW was assembled in Mexico (just an interesting bit of trivia, both plants build to the same QC standards, and fit and finish was identical, they’re all mostly assembled by robots anyway, and the parts all come from the same suppliers, where the vehicle is bolted together is largely irrelevant

    * I should’ve held out for the manual, but they’re harder to find now and more expensive

    Looking back on it, perhaps I should’ve gone with the JSW, a manual diesel wagon would be quite quirky and cool, but the lack of paddles, driving lights and the vynil seats were a turn off

  • MacTechG4

    VW should have configured the Jetta/Golf Sportwagen like this;
    Driving lights
    Paddles for the DSG (JSW doesn’t have paddles)
    Cloth seats (more durable and dog friendly than “leatherette” vynil)
    Independent rear suspension (Golf Sportwagens have a downgraded twist beam because of the AdBlue system on the TDI)

  • Huy Thai

    We don’t like Wagons because the majority of them are ugly af. Like the outback, the amount of black cladding suggests that that lifted sedan goes rock climbing.

  • Erwin Roossien

    Wagon is the way to go. Tons of more space than any crossover. Crossovers are usually higher on their wheels and lean all over the place in corners.

  • Holyfox

    It’s true, we Europeans like them.
    They’re more discreet, understatement & need less fuel than a SUVs.
    In Germany we call them „Kombi“.

  • Extreme Snipe

    If the “Wagons” sold in America weren’t a crossover but something actually small, then sign me up. Also when did the Subaru Outback become bigger than a forester?

  • revistadearmas

    Crossovers would never drive like wagons sendan or have the gas mileage efficiency, crossover days are number by the electric crossover themselves.

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