In 1992, annual European unit sales of sport-utilities stood at about 250,000. Last year that number was 680,000. That translates as a 2 percent market share 10 years ago and 4.2 percent in 2002.
"Short term, European SUV sales are expected to remain flat, but with market share slightly climbing to 4.4 percent in an overall falling market until 2004," said Nigel Griffiths, senior analyst at London-based Global Insight-DRI.
But when smaller SUVs make their debut in mid-decade, the sector's share will increase to about 6 percent, Griffiths predicted, and sales could be 1 million in 2008.
People want to be seen in an SUV.
"The status of an SUV is important, and even higher taxes in the UK, the largest SUV market in Europe, did not affect sales," Griffiths said.