Two years ago, I sat here pontificating about the 2012 Ford Fusion and its potential to be a “game changer” in the mid-size sedan market. Without any kind of concrete claim, it’s difficult for me to gloat about the accuracy of my claim, or for you, the B&B, to mock me for my over-exuberance (ok, it’s not). But this year, I’ve got something better: a prediction market of sorts, for the automotive industry. And it’s open to everyone.
-Jeep will sell about 125,000 units of the Cherokee in 2014, it’s first full year of sales. The Cherokee is too polarizing, and upper trim models get expensive. Toldeo is currently building 220,000 Wranglers per year for global consumption, with 141,000 of those sold in the US, where dealers can’t seem to keep them on the lots. They want to do another 250,000 units globally for the Cherokee, but I’m not sure they can sustain the current pace of 10,000 units a month, which I ascribe mostly to pent-up demand.
-Cherokee will be outsold by the 2014 Nissan Rogue, which is sufficiently bland enough to appeal to crossover buyers, while Nissan’s substantial dealer network, neutral brand image and ability to both crank Rogues out at Smyrna and finance practically anyone will help give it the edge. The CR-V and Escape will remain on top.
-The full-size segment will continue to decline, as crossovers eat away at this segment and every other passenger car segment in North America. Ford will not replace the Taurus with a next-generation, as sales of both the Explorer and its Police Interceptor version make such a car redundant.
-Small crossovers will continue to be all the rage in Europe, and one of the few growth spots in a flaccid new car market. Hyundai will launch its entrant in 2014.
-The shine will wear off of the Cadillac ATS, now that Cadillac PR isn’t paying attention, and the CTS V-Sport is basking in the warm glow of the hometown hype machine. Like the Camaro before it, the enthusiast press will cease its hyperbolic praise of the smallest Cadillac and call it for what it is: a competent, but not fully baked alternative to the Germans and Lexus.
BONUS: The mainstream automotive media (the big four buff books and enthusiast-oriented online publications) will continue to place themselves and their own tastes ahead of providing value to their readers. The Ford Explorer, which was criticized for abandoning its body-on-frame construction and becoming a “boring crossover”, is on track to have its best year since 2006, and as of the end of November, was America’s best-selling large SUV, proving an example of how out-of-touch the average buffet-circuit-and-diesel-wagon-lover is with the rest of the world.
If you have any, list them below. And come January 1, 2015, feel free to mock me mercilessly for the ones I get wrong. We can review my winners and losers – and yours as well.