China's middle class is predicted to mint up to 500 million new bourgeois comrades in the next 15 years, and not only will that mean new car owners, but more of those owners will be women. Along with rising incomes, that has put The Middle Kingdom into an SUV-buying boom driven by "tiger moms," similar to the splurge that happened here in the 1990s but with big, striped cats replacing black-spotted white balls.
The trend has enough force already that SUV sales are expected to make up for other slumping segments, which is just about all of them. In addition to mothers wanting an SUV to haul their lone kid around there are other cultural factors at play, one being the fact that car ownership has only recently become a practical aspiration and having an SUV is a way to make a big splash in the new pool.
Carmakers obviously have no intention of denying the Chinese their desires, with Daimler declaring this "the year of the SUV." It's probably no coincidence that Lamborghini showed off its Jota in Geneva and its Urus in Beijing, nor that every other automaker showed up to the Beijing Motor Show with plenty of high-riding hardware (see above). It probably is a coincidence that carmakers dreamed of selling squillions of SUVs just as Earth Day ended.