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Consumer Demand for Trucks, SUVs Outdistances Interest in Cars

Consumer Demand for Trucks, SUVs Outdistances Interest in Cars

By Philly Murtha, February 18, 2016
The shift to trucks and SUVs continues as America’s consumers favor them over cars. New light-truck sales flourished in January, capturing nearly 59.7% of U.S. new-vehicle deliveries after ending 2015 with a 57% share—a gain of 3.4 percentage points from 2014, according to data gathered by J.D. Power and auto forecasting partner LMC Automotive.

It’s no surprise that new-vehicle sales—especially trucks and SUVs—continued their strong pace in January as consumers continued to replace their aging vehicles (the average age of vehicles on the road remains at 11.4 years1). Since the end of the Great Recession in June 2009, the U.S. auto industry has experienced six consecutive years of growth—a period unmatched since the 1920s—and 2016 could be another stellar year, according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive projections. SUVs and trucks are stars as gasoline averages $2-$3 per gallon,2 and new models offer fuel-efficient, smaller, more powerful engine choices.

A few highlights from January sales trends:
  • The three top-selling models in the United States were pickups. The Ford F-Series was the market leader, followed by the Chevrolet Silverado and Ram pickup (light- and heavy-duty models combined).
  • Five of the 10 top sellers were trucks, two of which were compact SUVs—Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape.
  • The Toyota Camry was the best-selling car in America but ranked fourth in overall volume. Three other midsize car models made the top 10: Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, and Ford Fusion, respectively.
  • Two compact cars—Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic—made the top 10 list.
  • The eight SUV (non-premium and premium) categories captured one-third of deliveries—up one-half point from a year ago.
  • Premium SUV sales climbed by one-fourth from last year, while non-premium SUV demand rose 13.4%3 to nearly a 32% share.
  • Niche-market Small SUVs growth outpaced all other categories. Sales soared 73.5% from a year ago. Jeep was the segment leader with three models—Patriot, Renegade, and Compass—among the top six.
  • Two surprise trends were that Midsize Vans (+37.6%) outperformed the industry’s overall sales increase (+8.1%), as did Large Cars (+28.3%).

1Source: U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics
2The average price of unleaded gasoline on Feb. 16 was $1.72 per gallon, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report
3All results and percentages are selling-day adjusted. January 2016 had 24 selling days while January 2015 had 26.

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