The Toyota Camry’s sales are constant from 2016 to 2017, as are sales for the Honda Civic and Nissan Sentra. But nearly all other passenger sedans took a nosedive year over year. The Ford Fusion plummeted 21 percent, the Hyundai Sonata is down more than a third, and dozens of other models experienced double-digit drops compared to 2016.
Vehicle sales nearly matched an all-time high set in 2016. But the sales figures aren’t reflected in sedan sales. People aren’t buying sedans at a rate even close to previous years. It begs a couple questions: is there a reason for the drop in sedan sales, and what should be done about it?
Why Sedan Sales are Decreasing
You don’t have to look far to find the main reason people aren’t buying sedans anymore. The most obvious answer is posted on every street corner, at every fuel station. But there’s more to it.
Low Fuel Prices
From 2010 through 2014, the average price per gallon of fuel in the United States was much higher. It ranged from $2.78 per gallon in 2010 to $3.62 per gallon in 2012. There were four consecutive years where the average price per gallon of gasoline was $3.36 or higher. Those high fuel prices drove sedan sales, known to be more fuel efficient than larger SUVs and trucks.
In 2017, the average price per gallon of fuel in the US was just $2.42. It costs nearly a third less to fuel a vehicle today than it did just three years ago. And when fuel prices are low, people aren’t afraid to buy vehicles that burn more gas. You’ll see it reflected in the numbers. SUV sales and truck sales are as high as they’ve ever been, and it’s expected to continue that way.
More Fuel Efficient Trucks and SUVs
Not only are the gas prices lower, but larger vehicles are more efficient than ever before. For example, a best-selling Ford F-150 would most commonly be found with a V8 under the hood. Today, a turbocharged V6 is just as powerful and is certainly more efficient on fuel, and now is the standard. The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel offers 27mpg on the highway. Clearly, when trucks and SUVs are more cost-effective at the pump, they are more desirable for car buyers.
Better Equipment in Trucks
In the past two decades, trucks have undergone a reformation of sorts. Previously known as workhorses, rudimentary transportation for tradespeople, and heavy haulers, trucks aren’t the same. Pickup trucks are mainstream transportation for families, businesspeople, and weekend warriors. They’re built with more options and comfort than ever and are much more desirable for the everyday driver.
What Should Be Done About Declining Sedan Sales?
Any reaction to the steep decline in sedan sales should be calculated, not a knee-jerk reaction. Perhaps manufacturers should slow down production until demand increases, and dealerships stock their lots with a slightly lower number of units.
Truck and SUV sales will eventually slow as the price of fuel swings upward in the future, and it’s inevitably coming. When that happens, car buyers will once again feel the pinch in their pockets and favor sedans and other more efficient models. The sales figures may never fully regain the ground they’ve lost, but it will be enough to restore faith in the sedan market again.