The reports of the death of the small sedan have been greatly exaggerated
With apologies for the above to Samuel Clemens, consider the following:
- At the Albany Auto Show last fall, there was a brand new Nissan Versa sedan on the show floor
- At the Montreal show in January, Nissan also debuted a new Sentra
- For the 2020 model year, Hyundai refined the Accent sedan with a new continuously variable transmission (CVT) to squeeze out even more miles per gallon
- The Toyota Yaris Hatchback is all new, along with its recently revised sibling the Yaris Sedan
- Honda continues its tradition of small sedans with the Civic and Insight Hybrid
In a post-COVID-19 world, what will the automotive marketplace look like? It’s pretty safe to say that money is going to be really, really tight. But it’s always hard to predict people’s behaviour. Will some people bust out of isolation and go nuts with spending? Probably not. If anything, I think people will simplify. No one can eat lentil stew forever, but then again, the importance of putting food on the table at all is something to celebrate.
Who's got it right? Who's got it wrong?
All to say, have the above manufacturers gotten it right, and have GM and Ford gotten it wrong? At the latest auto shows, you couldn’t find a sedan other than the Fusion Hybrid on the Ford stand. GM’s focus is clearly on SUVs with all-new Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon and Escalade models coming very soon. But will people have the budget to purchase these full-size SUVs?
On the upside, the cost of gasoline is extremely low right now. The operating costs of full-size SUVs has gone down dramatically. But time will tell if gas prices stay low. People might be looking to save money wherever they can.
Time will tell
Let’s look at sales for the last pre-COVID-19 month. The top twenty in vehicle sales for February 2020 was dominated by SUVs and full size trucks. The only outliers are the Honda Civic at number eight and the Toyota Corolla at number nine. We’ll check back later this summer to see if the newer small cars make any inroads on the SUV/light truck domination.
In the meantime, consider putting Versa, Sentra, Accent, and Yaris on your new car shopping list. We’ll be adding these vehicles to the Automobl Comparison Tool soon, so check back regularly when your shopping begins in earnest.