U.S. Passenger Car Sales Drop

Americans continue to prefer SUVs, crossovers and pickup trucks to passenger cars.

December 05, 2018

DETROIT – Americans continue to show preference to pickups, crossovers and SUVs over passenger cars, and automobile makers are catering to those changes with new offerings in those categories, USA Today reports. Overall, sales of vehicles dropped a bit last month. Analyst pointed to interest rates inching up and the plummeting regard for passenger cars.

However, that hasn’t impacted the industry much, with HIS Markit forecasting that 2018 auto sales “will be very close to exceeding” the 17.2 million sold in 2017 (which, in turn, was down slightly from the all-time high of 17.6 million in 2016). “The industry in November had a really steady, consistent performance, much in the range it has run in all year,” said Mark LaNeve, Ford U.S. sales and marketing chief.

A decreasing demand for cars continued to be a trend, with sales of compacts dropping 18.4% last month, and midsize car sales plunging 15%, according to Cox Automotive. Those decrease were countered by compact and crossover sales bumping up 11.6% and midsize SUV and crossover sales jumping 11.7%.

General Motors (Chevrolet Volt, Impala and Cruze), Ford (Taurus, Fusion and Fiesta) and Fiat Chrysler all have announced they will be stopping production of most or all passenger car lines. Honda and Toyota will continue to produce passenger cars, but are shifting their focus to pickup truck, crossover and SUV lines.

In August, the Fuels Institute released a report that suggests consumers buy vehicles based on utility, cost and efficiency, and that fuel prices are not influencing their vehicle purchasing decisions. Analyzing 15 years (2003–2017) of market data, “Driving Vehicle Sales–Utility, Affordability and Efficiency” identifies a market shift in cross utility vehicles (CUVs) that is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. The report also highlights important considerations relevant to the newly released proposed federal fuel economy standards.