High-riding, gas-guzzling, wide-bodied SUVs were more popular among U.S. and international drivers than ever in 2016. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at the lineup of this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Half of the 20 new models unveiled this year were sedans, station wagons and coupes. Which seems odd, since SUVs, trucks and crossover models by far outsold traditional car models in 2016.
Large vehicles reportedly made up over 60 percent of all vehicles bought in the U.S. last year. In the U.S. luxury market, car sales dropped year on year by 172,000 vehicles, said Bloomberg, while luxury SUV model sales grew by 99,000.
Ludwig Willisch, chief executive of BMW North America, went so far as to say, “There is a clear trend toward trucks, and we don’t see any reason why it should stop.”
Yet change does seem to be on the horizon.
As it turns out, drivers tend to buy what car companies want them to buy. SUVs made up a majority of new vehicle models in 2016, meaning they made the most money and got the most advertising and the prime showroom spots.
Drew Slaven, vice president of marketing at Mercedes-Benz USA, was quoted as saying, “There’s definitely a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing there.” Perhaps the SUV trend was more a self-fulfilling prophecy than a sign of increased consumer interest.
Additionally, car manufacturers are banking on newer, younger buyers in the market for cars will be less interested in SUVs, viewing them as the preferred model of the previous generation. That and rising gas prices and environmental conservation trends are likely to factor into new car purchases down the road.
De Nysschen, at Cadillac, was quoted as saying, “It was sedans, and then it was wagons, and then it became vans and then crossovers. Now you’re getting crossovers that are getting lower. If we carry on long enough, we’re back to hatchbacks.”