Get your sedan while you still can.

The Toyota Avalon, Mazda 6 and Volkswagen Passat will soon join the growing list of sedans sent into automobile exile. Americans’ unwavering appetite for sport utility vehicles and trucks is certainly one reason. Another? Electric vehicles, say some experts.

“Sports cars and sedans were already at the edge of the cliff,” Joe Wiesenfelder, editor of Cars.com, told ABC News. “Electric vehicles may be responsible for giving them the final boost.”

Ford, Lincoln and Chrysler have long abandoned the sedan segment. Other automakers will likely follow suit.

“When the automakers turn their attention elsewhere, something is going to lose and it’s usually the products that were already at risk,” said Wiesenfelder. “Automakers are giving up on a form – not a need. Midsize cars are now a subcompact SUV.”

Stephanie Brinley, analyst at IHS Markit, argued that electric vehicles are now the reason automakers are avoiding sedans and canceling production of long-standing models.

“Sedans and sports cars will keep falling for a bit longer,” she wrote in a recent post on LinkedIn. “It’s sad to me that these guys are both in a hurry by the need to invest in electric vehicles and electrification.”

SUV and crossover sales accounted for 51% of the U.S. market in 2020, up from 30.2% in 2010, according to Brinley. Sales of sedans are reversed: 22.6% in 2020 against 46.2% in 2010.

“If we weren’t grappling with the costs of [electric vehicle] transition, some sedans can survive even at lower volumes, ”Brinley told ABC News. “Electric vehicles are capital intensive and expensive. The money from product development goes to electric vehicles. “

Rory Carroll, the editor of Jalopnik, said automakers have one goal: to make money.

“If you’re going to invest in something, you’re not going to take any money out of the products that sell,” he told ABC News. “Sports cars and sedans – these aren’t selling right now. Auto manufacturers sell cars. “

Michael Tripp, vice president of vehicle marketing and communications at Toyota North America, defended the Avalon’s 28 years of production, saying the large sedan had a “rich history” with 30,000 units sold each year. Its quagmire? SUV.

“What keeps passenger car migration away isn’t a government mandate or what the automakers do – it’s the tastes of the customers,” Tripp told ABC News. “The [large sedan] segment is down 70% to 75% over the past four or five years. It has nothing to do with the Avalon’s powertrain. It’s related to the segment. “

The pandemic – and not electric vehicles – has likely accelerated the move away from sedans, according to Autoweek editor-in-chief Natalie Neff.

“Automakers have moved away from this segment for quite some time,” she told ABC News. “People don’t buy sedans … that’s why Ford pulled out of the auto industry a few years ago.”

Further, she added, “the practicality of a sedan is far inferior to that of a crossover. It’s not as if the sedan offers better performance, better fuel efficiency or utility. . “

More and more Americans are slowly starting to switch to electricity. Brinley said battery electric vehicle registrations totaled 2.4% of the U.S. market in the first six months of 2021 and 1.8% last year. IHS Markit predicts that 32% of light-duty vehicle sales in the United States will be BEVs by 2030.

“Electric vehicles have not been widely accepted in the market in part because their development has focused on straight-line performance,” said Carroll of Jalopnik. “It’s a fun ride but not a driving experience. My mom would be terrified to go that fast.”

Ten years ago, few or no Americans were interested in electric vehicles when General Motors introduced the Bolt and Volt, Wiesenfelder said. But government policy and an industry-wide push are bolstering those billion dollar bets.

“There is a bet in abandoning future product plans for everything except electric vehicles,” admitted Wiesenfelder. “The last big push has fizzled out. It won’t be this time. More manufacturers are on board.”

Brinley still believes sedans have their place in the crowded automotive market. Electric vehicles may be all the rage now, she said, but the stakes are high.

“For many consumers, electric vehicles are still a bit of a mystery. It will take time to be adopted,” she said. “It will be a very long transition despite the hype.”


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