Smaller Cars Take Front and Center on U.S. Roads

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R. L. Polk - March 19, 2013

Mainstream large cars continue to lose favor among U.S. consumers, according to Polk, as motorists pay more attention to prices at the gas pump.

What is the broad direction of the auto industry today?

Mainstream large cars, such as the Avalon, Maxima, Taurus and Impala, continue to lose favor. Their combined share of the U.S. market has retreated from 5.8% in 2008 to just 3.5% in 2012 (the results were similar this past January, with the large car share declining from 4.1% a year ago to 3.9% this year). Large cars now account for a smaller slice of the U.S. market than minivans, itself an endangered species.

The broad movement of the U.S. light vehicle industry is in the direction of smaller vehicles, It is partially due to CAFÉ requirements and this suggests the current group of large cars will either disappear and the current midsize offerings will become the future fullsize cars or the current models will shrink. In the latter case, all vehicles would have to shrink to avoid having the fullsize vehicles overlap with midsize cars and that seems unlikely.

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