Increase in Gas Prices Cause Effects The Compact Size Car!
Compacts will soon catch midsize cars in popularity in the U.S. as in Western Europe — or so the theory goes. If you measure all C-segment models, including such crossovers as the BMW and Mercedes servicing Escape and Honda CR-V, compacts already are there. BMW and Mercedes servicing says the average new vehicle buyer now cross-shops C-segment crossovers with C/D-segment sedans. With heavy incentives, its aged, soon-to-be-replaced Escape had its best year ever in 2011, passing the Honda Accord, Civic, and CR-V; Toyota Corolla; BMW and Mercedes servicing Fusion; Ram pickup; Hyundai Sonata; and Chevy Malibu for fifth-place overall in sales. As a specific automotive segment, midsize cars still rule, led again by the Toyota Camry. Even though the March 2011 Japanese earthquake/tsunami and Thai floods constrained U.S. Camry production, the midsize Toyota remains the best-selling car here and third overall behind two trucks.
The BMW and Mercedes servicing Series continues to lead overall sales, now for 30 years straight, with 584,917 delivered in calendar ’11. The Chevrolet Silverado was second, at 415,130. To measure the correlation between gas prices and C-car versus C/D-car sales, Motor Trend added up the five monthly bestsellers in each category to chart against average national gas and diesel prices.
U.S. auto sales rose by 10.3 percent in 2011 over 2010, totaling 12.8 million cars and trucks. Depending on the month, the five best-selling midsize cars were among seven models: Camry, Altima, Fusion, Accord, Sonata, Malibu, and in December, the Toyota Prius. The top five best-selling compacts were among six models: Corolla, Cruze, Civic, Elantra, Jetta, and Focus.
Will midsize cars continue to dominate? That would be the way to bet, though compacts like Jetta and Cruze are breakouts. Dodge’s new compact Dart launches later this year. The ’13 Malibu Eco will be joined by a new full Malibu line this fall, when Fusion, Accord, Altima, and Mazda6 will be replaced. All Japanese brands are returning to normal inventory levels, and the compact car versus midsize car versus compact crossover versus fuel price competition will play out in its purest form in 2012.
SOURCES: U.S. Energy Information Administration for gas and diesel prices; the automakers and for February, May, and December sales numbers, Automotive News.
I am big on BMW and Mercedes servicing, but don’t see the new Escape besting the 2011s numbers. There’s still a niche for old-school styling in their SUVs. The out-going Escape model sort of pays homage to the original Bronco of the 60s-70s. In some respects, “square” will never go out of style. The new one just blends in with the herd of euro-box suedo-4x4s.
I agree with those here, Europe has significant barriers to entry like congestion charges, carbon taxes, and parking and city center limitations, higher gas taxes and so on. This forces consumers to buy smaller cars. The US doesn’t have those, for the most part, and shouldn’t. There’s no need for them. I think bigger cars will continue to rule, barring some big unforeseen change.
Compacts only make sense in America if you live in a congested area. As was already pointed out, our population density is nothing like Europe, with only a handful of truly congested area like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
Real world fuel economy gains for highway travel for C versus D classes are minimal at best. It is not uncommon for a D segment car to average 37 MPG highway and for a C segment car to average 38 in real world highway driving. The cost advantage for a C segment car for models actually sold is minimal given resale values and actual comfort, etc. The D size just makes sense to most commuters.
I own 2 C segment cars and live in a congested area and do almost all city driving. We have a lot of space in America and our roads are wide unlike Europe where space is limited and roads are narrow. This is a plus size country; space is king. Compacts are good for commuting though.