What do Jaguar, Bentley and Rolls-Royce have in common? They are all British marques, they are all owned by foreign companies and they are all piling into the must-have car of the 21st century: the sport utility vehicle.
As the great and the good of the auto industry assemble in Geneva on Tuesday for the annual motor show, the predominance of these bulky cars with off-road pretensions will be apparent once more.
The annual gathering in Switzerland’s second city will see carmakers unveil new products as they search for their next big hit and seek to reinvigorate interest in their brands.
“The trick is to have an attractive car because people will be prepared to pay more for that,” says Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive of Volvo, the Swedish brand that recently launched an updated version of its XC90 four-wheel drive. “And right now the market considers the SUV an attractive car.”
The rise of the SUV reflects a shift in consumer tastes towards vehicles with rugged looks and a large presence on the road, as well as a perceived increased capability, utility and safety.