SUV sales are now topping sedan sales for the first time ever – at least that’s the case for the first five months of 2014. A decade ago, no one would have ever believed this would happen, as the SUV landscape was completely different from today’s lineups. These figures are based on data from IHS Automotive Industry Solutions.
Ten years ago, the typical SUV was thought of as a premium vehicle that had most of the available bells and whistles … while also using up much more than its fair share of fuel. But my, how things have changed!
The Cause of SUV Sales Downturn
In 2006, the sudden rise in gas prices caused the SUV market to go into a rapid tailspin. Two of the most popular SUVs of that day, the Chevrolet TrailBlazer and Ford Explorer, saw their sales plummet by more than 25%.
Even dating back to five years ago, SUV sales accounted for just 31.4% of all transactions. Fast-forward to 2013, and sales of sedans still led SUVs 36.6% to 33.9%. But it certainly appears this is the year the inevitable finally happens, with SUVs accounting for 36.5% and sedans checking in at 35.4%.
SUV Sales Resurgence
What’s been the cause of the SUV resurgence? Much of it is due to the emergence of the crossover SUV. Buyers like the fact that the crossover still offers the utility of an SUV; they have better fuel economy; they drive more like cars than trucks; and they are priced at a fraction of the old SUVs. Granted, there are still premium SUVs out there, and some are still very popular (see the GMC Yukon, Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Tahoe, among others) … but most SUVs sold today are of the smaller variety. In fact, four of the top overall vehicles sold these days are compact crossovers – the Honda CR-V, the Ford Escape, the Chevrolet Equinox and the Toyota RAV4.
The success SUV sales is coming to the detriment of vans, which have dropped from 5.0% to 3.6% in the last five years. Also slumping a bit in the last half-decade are pickups, which have dipped from 14.1% to 13.1%.