Smaller-Engine Vehicles Sell Well in U.S.

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J.D. Power blog

During the past five years, there has been a rise in demand in the U.S. market for models equipped with more efficient, powerful and eco-friendly 4-cylinder engines.

Find out what J.D. Power’s Tyson Jominy has to say.

During the past five years, there has been a rise in demand in the U.S. market for compact- and even midsize-segment car and light-truck models to be equipped with more efficient, powerful and eco-friendly 4-cylinder engines. In fact, more than one-half of new vehicles purchased or leased in the first five and one-half months of 2013 were equipped with a 4-cylinder, according to data provided by our Power Information Network (PIN)®  division.

One reason behind the larger percentage of smaller engines (PIN defines small engines as 3-, 4- and 5-cylinders) in the sales mix is that more brands in the U.S. market now offer these more fuel-efficient powertrains than they did five years ago. Some of the noticeable changes in powertrain penetration that PIN has tracked between 2008 and 2013 are summarized:

• In 2008, 10 nameplates in the U.S. market did not even have engine options smaller than 6-cylinders. Today, there are only three brands without small (below 6-cylinders) engines in their sales mix.

• In 2008, there were only five nameplates with over 90% small-engine penetration. Today, there are 11 brands with greater than 90% penetration.

• Four nameplates have 100% small-engine penetration— Mini, smart, Fiat and Scion. Volkswagen, Subaru, Hyundai and Kia also score well above 90% small-engine penetration.

• The largest change is for the Buick brand, which did not offer 4-cylinders in 2008, but now is above 50% in its sales mix.

• Audi remains the top luxury marque with 4-cylinder penetration, while BMW, which did not offer 4-cylinders in 2008, is now No. 2.

This trend of offering more small powertrains is being advanced by volume automakers in the U.S., too.

 

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