Ever since Toyota invented the crossover – lookin’ at you, RAV4 – sedan sales have been in steady decline, whatever the gas prices and fuel economy numbers have been saying. In their place, crossovers and wagons have been steadily increasing in sales, but why isn’t anyone buying sedans anymore? Indeed, why are some automakers cutting more sedans from their lineups every year? There are at least a couple of good reasons.
People Aren’t Buying Sedans
Once asked what ten vehicles you wish you had in your garage, money being no object and speaking objectively, you’d probably have a coupe, pickup truck, sedan, SUV, station wagon, luxury car, and a hybrid, maybe a supercar and a winter beater for good measure. Now, being realistic, not many people have room for ten cars or even two cars, whether it’s lack of space or lack of budget. The rise of the crossover, wagons and compact SUVs, too, made it possible for one vehicle to do many things, albeit not as well. Day-to-day commuting, weekend projects, and high-tech comfort can all be had in a single vehicle instead of a fleet, but a sedan can’t do it all.
Right now, there’s a gal out there shopping for a face wash, a T-zone wash, shampoo, and body wash, at least four different cleansers. At the same time, there’s a guy out there shopping for an all-in-one wash that he can use on his hair, face, body, dog, cat, and car. This is how one might sum up one reason why sedans aren’t selling that much these days, if at all, and why some automakers have even cut most sedans from their lineups.
Automakers Don’t Need to Make Sedans
Another reason automakers had to make sedans in the past was to meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. In the past, this meant for every 11-mpg supertruck produced they had to build a dozen 30-mpg sedans. Selling those sedans, of course, was another matter, and it’s amazing what kind of deals people could find on last-years’ sedans, sitting forgotten behind the supertrucks and SUVs.
Today, though, advances in powertrain technology have leveled the playing field a bit. Thanks to turbocharging, supercharging, hybrid electric technology, battery electric technology, cylinder deactivation, and engine start-stop technology, among others, that 11-mpg supertruck now sips fuel at just 18 miles per gallon. To offset the supertruck for CAFE standards doesn’t require a dozen sedans, maybe a half-dozen 35-mpg crossovers, which have also gotten thriftier, plus the fact that no one wants to drive sedans anyway.
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