Alternative-powered vehicles, minivans, small crossovers and conventional SUVs like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Explorer and Nissan Pathfinder are among the segments that have matched or have done better than the entire industry this year. The small and affordable cars with frugal engines, mid-sized sedans, as well as hybrids, minivans and traditional mid-sized SUVs are selling very well. It’s believed that the unpredictable gas prices have led to poor sales of the big SUVs (both the regular models as well as the luxurious ones). It appears like the U.S. consumers have stopped to favor sporty luxury roadsters like the BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxster. Sales in the segment fell 3% this year even with the high demand for the restyled Mercedes-Benz SLK.
In the first half of 2012, the U.S. light-vehicle market had grown by 15%, beating a series of gloomy economic reports. In various key product segments, there are models that rose to the challenge while others failed. For this year, small pickups, mid-sized crossovers and large, traditional SUVs have fallen behind the growth in the industry. This year, overall car sales have gained ground, with sales rising by 17% while the share of light trucks has narrowed with a sales increase of 13%.
This year, the mid-sized car market widened by 21%, according to the Automotive News Data Center, with the help of revamped models like the Toyota Camry, Chrysler 200 and Volkswagen Passat. The rise in gasoline prices in the spring has led to a surge in the small, value-priced car segment of almost 80%. These models include the Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio and Chevrolet Sonic. Analysts said that even with indications that the U.S. economy is getting slower, the robust increase in sales of full-sized vans and full-sized pickup trucks demonstrates the economy is recovering slowly. Through the first six months of the year, sales of full-sized vans rose by 15% while the demand for full-sized pickup trucks increased by 13%. [source: Automotive News - sub. required]