The rise of the small, fuel-efficient car market is driving the decline of the tow bar aftermarket

While compact cars are becoming increasingly popular due to their low running costs, their down-sized, emission-reducing engines mean that they often make poor tow vehicles. This preference for small cars has heralded the decline of the tow bar market; however, car storage manufacturers can take advantage of the situation by promoting alternative storage methods, such as roof boxes.

With the introduction of EU emissions standards, car manufacturers have been required to adhere to stringent environmental standards to ensure that the emissions from their new vehicles do not exceed more than 130g of carbon dioxide per kilometer by 2015, and 95g by 2020. European drivers have been drawn to these fuel-efficient vehicles as they offer the opportunity to save money during the current tough economic climate. Small, low emissions vehicles are not only available to purchase at a lower initial price and offer greater fuel economy, but many European governments also offer motorists tax incentives if they purchase a fuel-efficient car.

Compact cars, along with being highly fuel efficient, also have significantly smaller engines compared to their larger counterparts. A reduction in engine size addresses concerns about both price and emissions, by reducing overall weight and fuel consumption. The smaller engines used in compact and subcompact cars can often mean that they are not suitable to use as tow vehicles. Many smaller cars are often unable to tow heavy weights and some models cannot be fitted with a tow bar at all, such as the Toyota Aygo and the Peugeot 107. The growing shift towards smaller vehicles is making compact and subcompact cars more popular than ever, and this is beginning to erode the tow bar market.

Although the growth of the tow bar market is likely to be stunted by the increasing number of subcompact cars on European roads, the reduced boot space and the inability to tow trailers is likely to lead small car owners to seek out different methods of storage. Companies that focus their business solely around tow bars should take action to ensure that they have suitable storage solutions for all drivers, including the owners of small cars, or their businesses may suffer as the small car market continues to grow. Other car storage accessories manufacturers have an opportunity to capitalize on the declining tow bar market, by offering and promoting storage alternatives such as roof boxes and roof bars to small car owners.