By on September 30, 2017

2017 Ford Fusion - Image: FordAcross the U.S. auto industry, there are a number of auto brands that are actually selling more passenger cars in 2017 than in 2016: Jaguar, Lincoln, Infiniti, Subaru, Volkswagen.

Some specific models, many with all-wheel-drive availability like the Audi A5, Subaru Impreza, and Volkswagen Golf, are enjoying far greater sales success this year than last.

But you know the story. Generally speaking, Americans are buying far fewer cars now than they used to. From more than 50 percent just five years ago, passenger car market share is down to 37 percent. Nowhere is this more obvious than at traditional domestic manufacturers, the Detroit Three.

While the U.S. auto industry has reported a drop of 3 percent compared with 2016’s record sales pace, passenger car sales have fallen four times faster than that. But the domestic drop is far more severe than the decline faced by import marques.

Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, and Lincoln combined to lose 19 percent of their car sales volume so far this year. All other brands were down “just” 9 percent. As a result, these traditional Detroit brands saw their share of the U.S. passenger car market fall from 36 percent in 2016’s first eight months to 25 percent in the first eight months of 2017, a massive decline over the span of just one year.2018 Cadillac CTS - Image: CadillacAfter discovering that foreign automakers will likely build more vehicles than the Detroit Three in America this year, we wanted to take a look at the root cause of the downturn at General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

It’s certainly not pickup trucks.

It’s cars.

GM, Ford, and FCA are ending shifts at car plants, laying off workers, and discontinuing models all because America’s consumers are turning away from Detroit-branded cars far faster than they’re turning away from cars in general. The brands are attempting to gradually wean themselves off fleet-reliance, as well.

There are a handful of notable exceptions to the general theme of decline, but in many of those cases, there’s a simple explanation. Chevrolet Cruze sales, for instance, are up 9 percent this year. But that’s only after an awful 2016 — compared with 2015, Cruze volume is down 18 percent this year. The Cadillac CT6’s 77-percent jump is simply a quirk of a 2016 calendar that didn’t provide any meaningful CT6 totals until May. Over the last four months, CT6 sales are up 1 percent. Big increases from the Chevrolet SS and Dodge Viper come as dealers clear out remaining models.

For the most part, Detroit’s cars are fading. And fast.

Rank Car 2017 8 Months 2016 8 Months %
Change
#1 Ford Fusion 138,489 189,892 -27.1%
#2 Chevrolet Cruze 133,966 122,796 9.1%
#3 Chevrolet Malibu 117,173 148,868 -21.3%
#4 Ford Focus 112,076 128,889 -13.0%
#5 Dodge Charger 58,148 62,214 -6.5%
#6 Ford Mustang 56,349 80,829 -30.3%
#7 Dodge Challenger 47,496 45,443 4.5%
#8 Chevrolet Camaro 46,297 47,958 -3.5%
#9 Chevrolet Impala 43,796 67,119 -34.7%
#10 Chrysler 300 35,436 38,581 -8.2%
#11 Ford Fiesta 32,409 34,577 -6.3%
#12 Ford Taurus 29,472 30,869 -4.5%
#13 Chevrolet Sonic 22,691 37,258 -39.1%
#14 Lincoln MKZ 18,901 20,415 -7.4%
#15 Chevrolet Corvette 17,385 19,890 -12.6%
#16 Chrysler 200 16,562 45,774 -63.8%
#17 Buick LaCrosse 14,534 17,920 -18.9%
#18 Chevrolet Volt 13,895 14,295 -2.8%
#19 Ford C-Max 12,348 13,721 -10.0%
#20 Chevrolet Spark 11,827 25,458 -53.5%
#21 Chevrolet Bolt 11,670
#22 Cadillac XTS 9,623 12,977 -25.8%
#23 Dodge Dart 9,385 34,670 -72.9%
#24 Cadillac ATS 8,998 14,360 -37.3%
#25 Buick Regal 8,288 13,765 -39.8%
#26 Lincoln Continental 8,020
#27 Cadillac CT6 7,143 4,048 76.5%
#28 Cadillac CTS 7,045 10,645 -33.8%
#29 Buick Cascada 4,241 5,326 -20.4%
#30 Buick Verano 3,951 21,439 -81.6%
#31 Chevrolet SS 2,810 2,148 30.8%
#32 Dodge Viper 517 409 26.4%
#33 Chevrolet Caprice PPV 393 552 -28.8%
#34 Lincoln MKS 153 4,083 -96.3%
#35 Ford GT 42
#36 Cadillac ELR 17 517 -96.7%
#37 Dodge Avenger 11 42 -73.8%
General Motors 485,743 587,339 -17.3%
  Ford Motor Company 408,259 503,275 -18.9%
  Chrysler/Dodge 167,555 227,133 -26.2%
  Total 1,061,557 1,317,747 -19.4%

[Images: Ford, General Motors]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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91 Comments on “Detroit’s Passenger Car Sales Are Falling Way Faster Than the Overall U.S. Auto Industry’s...”


  • avatar
    skor

    The ‘traditional’ car is pretty much a niche product in the US. By traditional car I mean a car with a low roof line, a style that only came into vogue in the late 1950s. Prior to that ‘traditional’ cars had the external dimensions of our current crop of CUVs/SUVs. The car styling of the late 50s was inspired by jets, rockets and racing, they became lower, wider and lower. Americans became enamored with the new style, and the country was young enough and physically fit enough to get into and out of the things. Today Muricans are fat and old, they want a ride that has a ‘commanding’ view of the road and makes them feel safe. Like it or not, most vehicles from here on out will be CUVs/SUVs/Pick-ups.

    • 0 avatar
      sgtjmack

      Which are nothing more than a wagon with a little higher suspension in most cases.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      There are compelling performance, fuel economy and safety reasons for wanting to make a vehicle that is low to the ground and with a low center of gravity. The post-WWII lowering of the sedan was not just for marketing reasons or to make cars look like rocketships. You can forget these lessons and drive around in a vehicle that has the height and center of gravity of a ’48 Buick but you have to pay a price for that in fuel economy and in rollover safety.

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        Americans don’t care about driving dynamics. The ’65 Mustang had a suspension that was, bolt for bolt, the exact same thing found in the Falcon….a suspension that looked like it was out of Conestoga wagon. Ford couldn’t build enough 65 Mustangs to meet demand.

        Another example was the ’10-speed’ bike craze of the 70s. Millions of racing style bikes with drop handlebars were sold in the US. Millions of buyers of those bikes then proceeded to flip the bars, negating the purpose of a drop bar.

        No one ever went broke from underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      “Like it or not, most vehicles from here on out will be CUVs/SUVs/Pick-ups.”

      Trends change. To think that way is foolish. From here on out is a long time.

      • 0 avatar
        BobNelson

        White Shadow,

        “Trends change. To think that way is foolish. From here on out is a long time.”

        Yes, and probably more in the next decade than in the past half-century. EVs are coming, of course… but autonomous cars will be an even greater change for us all.

        At first, highways will carry a mix of autonomous and driver-operated cars, but if the safety improvement is as great as most experts believe, it won’t be long before “hands off!” will be the rule. Then a “car” will be more an “entertainment center” to keep us occupied…

        • 0 avatar
          hamish42

          You are probably correct. However, driving is one of my great pleasures, as is working on my antique car. I will mourn the day I have to buy a hands-off car.

          • 0 avatar
            BobNelson

            hamish42,

            Agreed. I’ve been driving for over fifty years. Driving has always been a pleasure.

            I have trouble imagining riding in an autonomous car…

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Autonomous cars will require a level of condition and maintenance unknown to most Americans. I can see cost considerations, and of course insurance companies and lawyers, pushing adoption off into the perpetual future.

          • 0 avatar
            BobNelson

            Lorenzo,

            “I can see cost considerations, and of course insurance companies and lawyers, pushing adoption off into the perpetual future.”

            I’m not so sure. Everyone who dives deep into the topic comes up expecting much better traffic safety. Fewer accidents means less insurance payout. I can see insurers boosting autonomous cars.

  • avatar
    hirostates12

    There are cars on this list that I forgot even existed and I’m pretty car obsessed. These are, for the most part, dull blobs of mediocrity with only a few good standouts.

    Also, as Skor said, the demographic that buys American will want something they can fit in while feeling intimidating.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “while feeling intimidating.”

      I can get that sentiment for a Ram Rebel, but something like a Ridgeline or Rogue is 0% intimidating and something like a Renegade or Encore is -100% intimidating.

    • 0 avatar
      BobNelson

      hirostates12,

      … something they can fit in…

      Exactly.

      I had an Alfa, and loved it dearly… but my criteria have changed!

      I’m 6’6″, 285 lbs… and 70 years old. My wife and I are just the two of us, 99% of the time. We don’t need “big”… but we do want “easy to get into and out of”. We take long trips, so we need luggage-space… but not rear seats, so even a small car is more than big enough, if the rear seats fold.

      We visited all the stores, and decided that the Buick Encore was the easiest entry/exit. It is also the quietest in the segment, thanks to active noise-cancelling and lots of sound deadening materials. The ride is comfortable.

      It’s ideal for empty-nesters.

      • 0 avatar
        JDG1980

        I’m also 6’6″, and about 280 lbs, so I have encountered many of the same issues with fitting in vehicles. I’m currently in the market for a new (or at least newer) vehicle, and most sedans are off the list immediately due to inadequate headroom. The one exception I found is the Chevy Impala. (I thought the Chrysler 300 might as well, but the sunroof robs too much space.) My choices are largely restricted to crossovers and pickup trucks simply because of my height.

        I had considered the Encore, but the fact that you can’t get adaptive cruise control is a real drawback. (The cheaper Toyota C-HR offers it even at the $22,500 entry price – why can’t a $30K+ Buick in the same size class do it?) Right now I’m leaning toward the Honda CR-V; the EX trim seems to be a really nice value, with all the electronic features I want at a modest price.

        The full-size pickups have a nice ride and I fit in them just fine, but driving one feels like I’m driving a bus. Maybe I’d eventually get used to it. Unfortunately, pickups are way overpriced these days. There’s no way I could get a decent full-size pickup for the <27K that a Honda CR-V EX would cost.

        • 0 avatar
          BobNelson

          JDG1980,

          I agree that some decisions about what options should be offered are… odd…

          What’s your driving profile? We do a lot of highway, at high speed. The Encore is remarkably quiet in those conditions. On the other hand, if you like to always be ahead in red-light grands prix, the Encore is surely not the best choice!

          • 0 avatar
            JDG1980

            BobNelson, the majority of my driving is stop-and-go commuting. I do, however, make a trip to visit my parents every couple of weekends – that’s about a 150-mile interstate trek each way. This is where the adaptive cruise control would really come in handy.

            I’d like to have enough acceleration to be able to safely and effectively merge and pass, but I’m not looking to win any races. The CR-V seemed fine in my test drive in this regard. I’ve seen the Encore described as underpowered, but didn’t have a chance to try it myself and see how it felt.

        • 0 avatar
          Jeremiah Mckenna

          Well, if the US Government were to subsidize the auto industry like the Japanese government subsidizes their auto industry, then there would be more nanny devices on the American cars for less money. Not to mention that not everyone wants, or even knows what adaptive cruise control is or how it works. A majority of drivers rarely even drive with CC on, and those that do only think it is useful on long drives. I have educated a lot of my clients on how to use it and how it benefits them even in city and short drives. Same goes for lane departure and many other nanny devices.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Good choice on the Buick Encore. We had one when they first came out for a 2/20 lease and enjoyed Squirt. My 6p-year old inlaws wanted AWD and picked up a 2015 Encore AWD.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Do you have sexual intercourse with your Buick Encore (clown car) and Buick Envision (made in China)?

          Do you have a literal sexual attraction to plasticky, underpowered, made in China or of many foreign parts and adhesives Buicks?

          Or do you just sell them,,promote them at every single opportunity (even when not relevant to the conversation), and maintain a platonic love affair with these cheaply made, awkward looking, underpowered (sans TRIFECTA TUNE!!!) and mushy feeling Buicks?

          It’s a serious question that deserves a straightforward answer,

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Hey…it was Better Schmitt that had the Asian fetish.

          • 0 avatar
            BobNelson

            DeadWeight,

            I’ve never ridden in an Envision, so I have no opinion.

            The Encore, OTOH, is well-built using pleasant materials. Since you say the opposite, you apparently have never ridden in one. … Which doesn’t prevent you from having a vociferous opinion.

            Don’t worry about it. You’re nothing special. There are lots of people who have strong opinions on topics about which they are ignorant.

  • avatar

    I thought Sergio was crazy for dumping the Dart and 200 when he did. It seemed like a crazy move at the time. Now it is starting to look like a very smart decision after all. You already see other companies following suit, like Ford cutting the Fiesta, and probably the Focus too (well, ok, they are replacing it with a Chinese built version). I think the Taurus is dead too (although I did see a Chinese built Taurus with manufacturer plates on it, hmmm). I think a lot of GM models will be eliminated as well (Sonic, Impala, LaCrosse, Regal are models that I bet won’t be replaced at the end of their current cycles).

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      I don’t think having Ford or gm – the manufacturers losing car market share – following your lead is a reason to like Sergio’s strategy. Giving up on a market segment quickly is just short term thinking. I doubt we’ll see Honda give up on the civic or Toyota give up on the corrolla. In fact, they double down and take more risks, add more features when a market segment is shrinking.

      • 0 avatar
        JDG1980

        Sedans are becoming a niche market. Just as today, not every manufacturer feels the need to have a minivan in their lineup, there will be a day not long from now where not every major manufacturer will feel the need to fill the subcompact, compact, and midsize sedan segments. They will only do so if they have a truly competitive offering.

        Why should Ford continue to go to the trouble and expense of certifying the Focus for American use? People who want the best in class will buy the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla (or just maybe a Mazda3 if they feel adventurous), and the subprime crowd will probably end up with a Nissan Sentra. Why bother competing with an uncompetitive offering in a declining market segment? What’s the point – just to say they showed up?

      • 0 avatar
        RGChevy

        deanst-you’re EXACTLY RIGHT. GM, Ford, and (Fiat)/Chrysler need to KEEP PRODUCING CARS,and STOP cutting car models. GM, Ford and Chrysler have YET to successfully challenge Toyota, Honda, and Nissan in the midsize sedan market; BUT Ford and GM HAVE MADE GAINS, and have a PRESENCE in the midsize sedan market,with MUCH RESPECT given to the Ford Fusion for reliability,and a reasonable FOLLOWING for the Chevy Malibu as well. (Of course, (Fiat)/Chrysler FOOLISHLY ABANDONED the Midsize Sedan market recently, and “SOMEHOW”, Fiat/Chrysler saw its sales volume plunge by over 170,000 units in 2017(the biggest loss, BY FAR, of any mainstream automaker).

        The POINT IS, COMPETE, DETROIT BRANDS, DANGIT!!! Don’t crawl away from the car market just because you aren’t “The Kings”. The Japanese brands, particularly Toyota, Honda, and Nissan should be LAUDED for their patience, dedication to quality, and LONG-SIGHTED BUSINESS SENSE over the last 4 or 5 decades. They FOUGHT their way to the top of the sales charts in the Midsize Sedan market; in the Compact Sedan market; in the Compact Crossover market; in the Small/Midsize Pickup market-(Toyota Tacoma); in the Luxury Brand Market-(Lexus FAR OUTSELLS Cadillac, Lincoln, Chrysler; and Infiniti and Acura are VERY COMPETITIVE); in the Hybrid Market-(Toyota Prius,RAV4/Camry/Highlander/Avalon hybrids; tons of Lexus Hybrids); in the Subcompact Sedan market-(Nissan Versa is Sales King; Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Hyundai Accent pick up PLENTY of sales). Toyota and Honda have a STRONG PRESENCE in the Midsize Crossover Market, and the Toyota Highlander seems intent on stealing the show from Ford Explorer. The Nissan Sentra and Hyundai Elantra have now joined the Long-Time-Compact-Car-Sales-Kings Civic and Corolla in outselling the Cruze and Focus. Nissan Maxima sales ARE RISING, just as Chevy Impala (SPECIFICALLY) FLOUNDERS, and Dodge Charger sales falter a bit.

        The POINT IS, Detroit Brands can only “pull out of” SO MANY MARKETS. With Toyota, Honda and Nissan holding the ULTRA-HIGH-VOLUME Compact Crossover Market in a DEATHGRIP for years now-(Rogue “joined the party” a few years ago), Ford, GM and Chrysler BY NO MEANS should consider themselves “SECURE” in the Crossover Market. And since the Detroit Brands are getting THEIR BUTTS KICKED in most markets besides Fullsize Pickups, Commercial Vans, Minivans-(until Chrysler KILLS OFF the outdated Dodge Grand Caravan…..), Fullsize Sedans-(saved only by Dodge Charger so far in 2018),Muscle Cars, Fullsize Body-on-frame SUVs, Midsize Crossovers, and Compact/Midsize Body-on-frame SUVs(Jeep Wrangler), the Detroit Brands CAN’T AFFORD to lose more of the market than they already have. And the Muscle Car segment, the Fullsize Sedan segment, and the minivan segment AREN’T VERY HOT right now, while the Commercial Van segment is just that: COMMERCIAL. So it looks to me like Detroit needs to COMPETE EVEN HARDER in EVERY SEGMENT that they currently occupy. Otherwise, other brands will simply DOMINATE most of the entire market while GM, Ford and Chrysler simply wait for a gas-crunch (or TOUGH COMPETITION!!!) to short circuit one of the last HIGH-VOLUME and CURRENTLY RELEVANT Market Segments that they still hold: the Fullsize pickup segment.

  • avatar
    zip89123

    Every single Ford & Lincoln is down. Apparently quality isn’t job #1.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      In the bad old 70s/80s I had relatives who worked at Ford Edison Assembly and Ford Mahwah Assembly (both places are Tango Uniform now). I was told a story about some suits from Dearborn visiting Edison Assembly and lecturing the workers about ‘Job 1’. After the suits left, an old school hunky from New Brunswick who had worked his way up from the assembly line and into mid-management told them, “Forget what those guys told you (referring to the suits from Dearborn) this is what we’re doing.”

      • 0 avatar
        zip89123

        I can’t put this on the line workers either. This belongs to management for engineering & selling junk, like Focus & Fiesta transmissions that blow, endless recalls, engine fires, etc. I like my Fusion and would recommend it to anyone, but it isn’t without its issues. Of course if Ford would survey buyers after they’ve owned a vehicle for a while then Ford could find out what needs to be improved.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I guess that explains why their trucks and CUVs are doing just fine. It certainly couldn’t have anything to do with changing customer preferences, shifting away from cars, and into CUVs and trucks. And that it’s late in most of their volume models design cycles.

      Yes, the PowerShift is a dud, but the rest of their powertrains are pretty solid.

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        If by “just fine” you mean being routinely outsold by Toyota and/or Honda in many market segments. Ford lives and dies by the F150 – and they are benefitting from gm screwing up their last version of the sierra/Silverado.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          So what. Nobody wants to drive your little $#!+boxes that only serve to announce to the world “hey, look at me…I made $#!++y decisions and now I have to drive a crap box.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      GM, Ford and FCA have nearly completely ceded the coupe and sedan passenger vehicle market to the Japanese, Koreans and, even, to large extent, the Germans.

      It’s going to hurt GM, Ford and FCA a massive amount – believe me and think about history repeating (early 80s, mid 1990s to mid 2000s) – when the pendulum swings the other way, and the market share for sedans and coupes and smaller vehicles comes back (it will).

      GM, Ford and FCA are horrifically vulnerable with historically, incredibly weak medium, compact and subcompact sedan and could offerings when the gravy train pickup and SUV market share and prices/profits/marginn weaken.

      It’d already begun, really.

      The Detroit 2.5 are aggressively subsidizing pickup truck sales, and especially, leases, as well as those on CUVs..a trend that will intensity, then go bat$hit crazy deep-dive when the financialized construction boom of the last 8 years (low interest rates pressured down by central banks around the globe), for whatever reason, comes to an end.

      As it is, I am seeing bona fide offers of $15,400 off on a well’equipped Silverado 4×4 Crew Cab with an MSRP of $46,000 with a true $0 down sign and drive, and incredibly aggressive discounting from RAM and Ford (on their volume F Series) also.

      The $hit’s going to go crazy duringmthe next downturn that affects contractors non-commercial fleets.

      The Detroit 2.5 is all geared up for the short (and domestic) game, with short-term thinking eyes are shut.

  • avatar
    stuki

    It’s the same story across most to all sectors: Where competition is less de facto restricted, Americans are falling further behind. CUVs are becoming more popular in Europe and Asia as well now. Which means; in a few years to a a decade, the same story will repeat there. Leaving Chicken Tax and geographically protected pickup trucks, the American auto industry’s last stance. With perhaps a smattering of 8 liter “supercars” at decent prices.

    An inevitable consequence of productive Americans having to carry an ever growing burden of lawyers, bankers and other finance leeches, middle managers doing nothing but trying to navigate the maze created for the benefits of lawyers, health care costs, insurance rackets, and yahoos insisting government appropriate enough of others’ productive output to maintain the illusion that the ever depreciating shack they live in, is somehow “going up” every year.

    It used to be that the higher nominal tax and regulation rates in other countries, made up for the above. But by now, even famously overtaxed and over regulated Western European productive workers, aren’t saddled with a leech army the size their American counterparts have to carry any more.

  • avatar
    rentonben

    I’m delaying my next sedan purchase for the next germination of EVs – a refreshed Tesla S, or 3 once they work the bugs out, or a tarted up Bolt in Cadillac trim.

  • avatar
    matt3319

    I hate CUV’s. They are pointless and fake.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      sorry, no they’re not. I have an Escape this weekend. If you’re a person who just needs a vehicle to move yourself and your family around, they make perfect sense.

      ya gotta remember, very few actual car buyers care about cars the way we do.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I agree with both of you in different ways. CUVs ARE pointless and fake. They try to look like a vehicle with off-road capability, when they have no more than the minivan that they actually are. But at the same time, MY rental du jour is a Ford Fusion Hybrid, which is a perfectly nice car to drive, gets excellent gas mileage, but is utterly hopeless at carrying people and stuff behind the front seat. The back seat is terrible, despite a super low seat base there is minimal headroom and the shape of the back doors makes getting in and out a literal pain due to the fastback roofline. The trunk is USELESS – Fusions have small trunks to start with, then the Hybrid takes a third of it away for the battery box.

        There is probably a happy medium somewhere, and I think something like a Ford C-Max or a VW Golf+ is it. But even my regular Golf carries plenty of people and/or stuff and is easy to get in and out of, while driving circles around the jacked up in the air CUVs. But I also agree most people don’t care how anything drives.

        So bottom line for me is I will never buy a sedan smaller than an S-class, but I prefer a proper normal height hatch or wagon. But gun to my head, I will take a CUV over a sedan if those are the only choices.

        • 0 avatar
          EMedPA

          I think you’re largely right. Modern car design has rendered the trunk of just about every sedan out there useless. The Fusion and the Honda Civic are two of the worst offenders, in my opinion. You have to wonder if, say, a Fusion hatchback or wagon would boost their sales.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “CUVs ARE pointless”

          they are not pointless. They’re easier to get into and out of. if you have kids, the higher seating makes it easier to get them into and out of their car seats. They (usually) have more usable cargo space in the rear than sedans and wagons. they don’t get markedly worse real-world fuel economy either (not that anyone really cares about that with gas as cheap as it is.)

          but that’s no different than ~10 years ago when the mass market settled on the Camcord. It’s the default. it does everything buyers want. The average car buyer doesn’t care about 0-60 times, skidpad Gs, or anything. A car is an appliance, and they want the most convenient one with the least amount of fuss. Enthusiasts like us always trip over our d*cks extrapolating our preferences to the general population, and it just isn’t valid.

          and that’s been true forever. Everyone wants to believe in the ’60s and ’70s the streets were filled with 440 Six-Pack Super Bees, 454SS Chevelles, Buick GSXs, and Boss 429 Mustangs, but it wasn’t so. for every one of those cars there were 20,000 slant 6/318 Coronets, 250/327 Chevelles, Skylarks with 350s, and 289 Mustangs.

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            @matt3319- I take it potholes do not exist where you live. Your knees/hips/back are new and well-functioning, and you’re not a patron of Costco.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            They are still pointless. because the positive attributes you give to CUVs are also attributes of small or large minivans and “tall hatches” with better fuel mileage and better handling at lower prices. But the only examples we really get/got in the US are the Mazda5 and Ford C-max, and the C-max lost a lot of cargo space to being only a hybrid here. What can a Tiguan do that a Golf Wagon can’t do better other than waste more fuel and cost a lot more money? Because profit is the real reason for the CUV takeover – the automakers discovered they could charge $5K+ more for a vehicle that cost minimally more to produce than a hatch/wagon/minivan on the same platform. Make it look sorta butch and they will beat a path to your door.

            As you say, it’s all good while gas is still cheap. I really don’t care either way, I drive so little (on my own dime) I could just drive my 15mpg Land Rover all the time even if gas was $6/gal.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Because profit is the real reason for the CUV takeover – the automakers discovered they could charge $5K+ more for a vehicle that cost minimally more to produce than a hatch/wagon/minivan on the same platform. ”

            That’s utter f***ing nonsense. you think people are buying CUVs because the car companies make more money on them?

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            But muh brown deeeesil wagon…

  • avatar
    dwford

    So the Continental doubled the sales of the MKS so far YTD. Not bad. And Cadillac is beating Lincoln by 5600 units with 4 cars to Lincoln’s 2 cars.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Eventually fashion will come around again. Just like in the ’50’s/’60s, people will tire of the dowdy looks and “longer, lower, wider” will come back into style. Hopefully window glass too. Sure would be nice to be able to see out of cars again.

    There is bound to be a trend against CUVs by the next generation of hot young Moms, just like the current generation won’t be seen dead in their Mom’s minivans.

    A good hard gas price spike should move things along nicely. One can dream. Musk is leading us into a new Rocket Age afterall.

    • 0 avatar
      Demon_Something

      Nope, the current crop of college kids, (coming from one,) is that they just want more CRVs. “They’re just so handy!”

      …Young people now are a dull sort.

    • 0 avatar
      JDG1980

      To many, probably most, younger Americans, a car is simply an appliance – a useful tool to get from Point A to Point B, with or without passengers and/or cargo, as safely and comfortably as is reasonably affordable.

      I don’t see this changing. If anything, it is going to accelerate. Our roads are more crowded and in worse condition than they were in the post-WWII era, so there are fewer good places for pleasure driving. Generational changes mean fewer people define their self-image through their cars (consider how many pop songs there were about cars in the 1960s compared to now). Driving-aid technology means that more and more drivers will be delegating an ever-increasing portion of the driving task to the computer, therefore diminishing the need for high vehicular performance.

      And, no, gas price spikes won’t matter. The new Honda CR-V can already do 28 city / 34 highway MPG. And that’s a standard gas-powered car. Honda has a CR-V hybrid in the pipeline, though we don’t know if America will get it yet. Ford has an Escape hybrid coming in a few years. Toyota already has a hybrid RAV4. Modern crossovers are good enough in terms of fuel economy that even $5/gallon gas wouldn’t kill them.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeremiah Mckenna

        Roads worse off than they were before WWII? That is not true at all. The roads were not as well maintained as they are today, but there are many, many more to be maintained. Not to mention that there weren’t interstate freeways in place, and most highways were only two lane, unsafe for higher speed travel and not maintained as well as they should have been. Not to mention that you had to stop when you entered a town. Thus the difference between highway and freeway. A lot of people didn’t have cars, and those that did, only had one and most of those were utilitarian in nature and mostly went to the grocery store or carried the father off to work. Things have changed a lot with the way we travel, and who is driving the cars.

  • avatar
    sgtjmack

    What this article fails to mention is that ride share is up so a lot of people don’t need to buy a car like they used to. I can tell you that I used to be a valet for a few years while I was a full time student. In the beginning there were a lot of cars which meant a lot of tips. As time went by, less and less people were driving their own cars and more and more Uber and Lyft were pulling up. This meant less and less tips as well.

    A lot of millenials don’t drive, or even want to drive or own a car. They can either borrow their parents, grand parents cars or call an Uber or ride their bicycle, or simply stay at home and ‘visit or ‘hang out on line. A lot of things can be delivered, so as fain, the need to drive is fading.

    Add higher prices cars and you have less people buying new and more buying used or keeping their current car longer.

    I got out of the auto industry when I noticed that I had to sell more cars to take home the same amount of money I was a few years before.

    Not only are car sales down, but so are motorcycle sales. It is a trend that will continue to go down for the next few years.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    I’m not at all surprised. I’m trying to figure out — all things considered — which company is doing the worst.

    Obviously, FCA is down the most, burn they have basically exited the car market so this is expected.

    Ford is fleet dumping cars like it’s 1999. However, GM has actually invested a lot in its car line up and is trying to compete globally (and supposedly cutting down on its fleet sales although my last experience at a rental car company says otherwise). That the Detroit 3 are down so much shows proves the structural problems predating the bailout have not been fixed. Their cars may be better, but the product is not up to par with class leaders.

    I also think that while the market had peaked and will be slightly down this year,this decrease is mostly from subprime buyers. Upper middle class consumers are buying crossovers and Hondas and Toyotas. Subprime buyers are shopping the Detroit 3 against Mitsubishi, Kia, and Nissan.

    Honestly, when the bailout happened. I believed that the only way GM and Chrysler could make it long term is if every decision and product was a homerun. Zero margin of error. It’s clear that their products while no longer awful, are not good enough.

  • avatar
    S197GT

    I never thought I would buy a Ford Fusion. But when I saw the deals I could get (and after borrowing a 2011 and liking it) I tried one out. I have complained a lot about “eco”-boost engines lack of economy but so far I am pretty happy with the 2.0 in my 2017 Fusion. I am also getting 29 MPG with combined mostly highway and has all the pep I need at this stage in my life. Course, I’m only 1k miles in…

    I got a lot of car for the money. It isn’t the best car out there but for what I paid and what I got I am very happy.

  • avatar

    I am not fat or tall but rather skinny and still find it difficult to get in and out of my Fusion. But it worth it considering how much fun I have commuting in Fusion with 2.0L ecoboost everyday. I would avoid boredom associated with Camry and Accord – let average Americans to drive Hondas and Toyotas.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    Ford messed up the Fusion refresh—it looks unchanged, its sister, the nose of its sister, the MKZ looks very different. The Fusion is down 27%, while the MKZ is down 7%. Folks like something that looks new.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    I thought the Continental was Lincoln’s savior?

    Anyway, the big players from Detroit in the segment have massive issues. Ford’s garbage PowerShift transmissions made a massive dent in the sales of the Focus and Fiesta (it didn’t help that the rest of the car wasn’t very good either.) And the Fusion has become very stale and outdated (which could be said about the rest of Ford’s lineup sans trucks).

    The Malibu is mediocre at best and the Charger (being the best sedan sold by the big 3) suffers from people who are scared of RWD.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      Nobody is scared of RWD…they just don’t want to spend their days hanging out at a Dodge dealer with all of the Jerry Sprier rejects while they wait for there piece of $#!+ To be fixed for the 7th time in a month. If it is the best sedan than my a$$ is a freaking golden windmill. Jesus H. Christ…did Bill Ford bang your wife or something? Get over it!

    • 0 avatar
      JDG1980

      Most drivers couldn’t even tell you if their car was FWD or RWD. They just don’t care.

      The Charger is good for what it is, but it’s a niche product. Most buyers don’t care about the Charger’s strengths and are more interested in features, ride comfort, and/or cargo space. And while the Charger is one of FCA’s more reliable products, that’s not really saying much.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I doubt that I will ever buy another car. Crossovers are much easier to get in and out of and the cargo area is easier to access with more space. It is less about what is popular and more what works the best for my wife and me. I have less interest in going 0 to 60 in 5 seconds as long as the acceleration is good enough to enter the interstate safely and pass safely. Also as long as I can get all wheel or 4 wheel drive for the snow and heated seats, cruise control, power seats, and satellite radio my wife and I are happy. At 65 years old I am less interested in impressing others and more interested in having a comfortable, safe, and reliable vehicle that meets my wife’s and my needs. Appliances are not so bad since they serve a vital function especially those in your kitchen and utility room. Today’s sedans for the most part are much harder to get in and out of, have smaller windows with poor visibility, unusable back seats with less headroom, and smaller less usable trunks. Call me boring but a cuv and a pickup are much more usable and comfortable. As for 2 door coupes and muscle cars I have been there and done that, I have no reason to relive my youth or buy the car that I longed for in my youth.

    • 0 avatar
      BobNelson

      Jeff S,

      “… and more what works the best for my wife and me.”

      Exactly.

      Edmunds.com says “You wouldn’t guess it at first glance, but the diminutive 2017 Buick Encore actually embodies many of the elements that Buick, a brand known for building large luxury sedans, has traditionally stood for. Those elements include a hushed cabin, near-luxury trim, and a long list of upscale features.”

      Lots of empty-nesters almost never have rear-seat passengers, so if it’s a bit tight on those rare occasions, it’s not a problem.

      Quiet, comfortable cruising…

  • avatar
    gespo04

    I want to meet the 11 people that bought a brand new Dodge Avenger in 2017.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    The Big 3 just build most of their passenger cars for compliance reasons so they can sell the vehicles that Americans actually want to buy from them. Trucks and SUVs.

    So they put as little into them as possible because they are loss leaders that have to be subsidized.
    Don’t be surprised that Americans consumers have also noticed.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Disagree, well disagree for Ford and GM.

      Ford and GM sedans are nice, and if fortunes changed in gas prices would be competitive. FCA definitely phoned it in and has basically given up.

      For example:

      The Yaris is awful. Just awful. Not the Mazda2 based iA quasi-Yaris, Toyota’s Yaris. This B-segment car has no reason to exist. Drum brakes? 4-speed automatic? Torsion beam suspension? Why would anyone buy this when the iA next to it is around $500 more or the $1500 more Corolla, on the subject of…

      The Corolla is totally phoned in at this point. Why anyone would buy a Corolla over a Civic is beyond me. Look at the data above, Cruze sales grew this year, and no that isn’t fleet as GM is walking away. Why anyone would buy a Corolla over a Focus is lost on me also. It isn’t that the Corolla is bad. It is a solid car, but I don’t see it as class competitive beyond the fact it as a Lazy T logo and says Corolla.

      The Nissan Altima is the Pontiac Grand Prix rental car fodder of 2017. Completely phoned in. It isn’t even in the same league as the Fusion for example.

      When it comes to fullsizers that Impala is one of the top rated cars you can buy across the board (not the W-body Impala anymore). The Epsilon II platform is brilliant, as is the Buick LaCrosse.

      Also remember, the selling of SUVs/CUVs/pickups isn’t the unique playground of the Detroit 2-1/4. Honda, Toyota, and Nissan sell huge numbers of CUV/SUV and for Toyota, pickup trucks. Heck, Toyota’s fullsize pickup trucks are back of the pack in MPG in particular.

      Buyers don’t want sedans anymore – and the Toyota Camry has been the top fleet queen in terms of total numbers (not percentage) for 5 or 6 years in a row now. 60K to 70K a year going to rental lots — that helps the numbers. GM in particular is walking away from fleet sales, and other companies are picking up the slack.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeremiah Mckenna

        As a salesman of both Toyota and Honda, I can tell you the main differences between Corolla and Civic, as well as the Accord and Camry. Actually it is the main difference between Toyota and Honda in general. Comfort and quiet or quasi performance and noisy. Both are extremely dependable, but it depends on the owners lifestyle. The Toyota has more sound deadening materials, softer interior finish and a little better attention to detail when it comes to fit and finish, along with a softer riding suspension.

        Honda has always been more focused on performance and tighter suspension. But they leave out the creature comforts, like comfortable seats for longer drives and longer legged individuals.

        Why the Yaris? Mainly for EPA fleet numbers, and the fact that there are a few, and I mean a really small amount of people that see the smaller car more appealing since we both know that the Civic and Corolla have grown over the years and are now as big as the original Accord/Camry(which have also grown).

        Honda tends to go for the younger crowds(be they young at heart or young in age) where Toyota leans more towards the more mature crowd. Even the Supra, be it a sports car was sold to more adults than teenagers where as the S2000 was more the opposite. Toyota plays it safe when making style changes as to not alienate the older grannies while still trying to appeal to the younger demo’s.

      • 0 avatar
        JDG1980

        “Why anyone would buy a Corolla over a Focus is lost on me also. ”

        By all accounts the Focus has a really, really terrible transmission.

        But once the PowerSh*t models are put to the side, I do agree with you that modern Ford and GM sedans are, overall, fairly competitive by world standards. I had a Ford Fusion as a subsidized rental when my Honda Fit was in the shop for a Takata recall, and it seemed to be a solid car.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    True compliance is a valid reason for the Big 3 to build passenger cars. FCA has put themselves in a hard position when they discontinued the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart without a replacement. I understand why FCA discontinued these models but at some point they might have to have replacements just to meet the fleet averages even if it is to have a competitor make these vehicles for them.

    • 0 avatar
      JDG1980

      Honestly, FCA would probably be better off just paying the fines.

      And it probably won’t be as bad as you think. Remember, the new CAFE standards are footprint-based, so a half-ton pickup is allowed to have much worse gas mileage than a compact sedan without infringing.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        yeah as long as each model sold meets its foot print requirements all is good even if the overall CAFE number is no where near that fictional number that Obama made a big stink about. Truck fleets and car fleets are also still separate, but they can still bank and trade credits from segment to segment or save them for future years.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        JDG,
        Your comment makes it sound like the car companies are paying. This is not the case, the consumer pays the price.

        This is the problem with protectionism dolled up as responsible regulation.

        You can look at how and why the US market is as it currently stands.

        There is one terrible impost on the US consumer, the chicken tax. If that disappears the US auto industry will collapse.

        Its to late for change now.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          Ah good to see you back on the chicken tax vs bashing Jews you racist pos.

        • 0 avatar
          JDG1980

          Car companies can only pass on the costs of compliance to consumers if all their competitors are doing the same thing. If FCA was the only company paying CAFE fines on their trucks, then they wouldn’t be able to pass on the costs if that would make their prices uncompetitive with Ford and GM.

          And your protectionism argument is nonsense. The chicken tax probably does prevent some global compact pickups from being sold in the U.S. market, but it doesn’t explain why domestic half-tons are so dominant. The Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan are competing with GM, Ford, and FCA on a level playing field, and they are losing. They simply don’t come close to the sales figures of the domestics. If anything, Toyota and Nissan have a cost advantage over Ford, since the Japanese manufacturers put their plants in Southern non-union states, while the F-150 is built by the UAW. The fact is that GM and Ford simply make better trucks, because trucks are their bread-and-butter and they know it, and they focus their R&D resources on their flagship products.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            JDG,
            I agree the fullsixe trucks will reign. But, a US made midsize will cost nearly the same to produce as a half ton.

            So, cheaper imports will sell more than an import with a 25% tax or a US produced midsize. This in turn would force down the price of a fullsize.

            The consumer wins.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Yup eliminate the chicken tax and everyone will start buying crappy mini trucks and abandon their full size trucks, SUVs, CUVs and sedans.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            And? So, the consumer buys what they want and need.

            This is called economic freedom on supply and demand.

            You know what freedom is? Choice.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Sad to see the LaCrosse declining, but the whole segment of fullsize barges is in decline. We were very impressed with the 2017 LaCrosse Premium we had as a rental.

    It wasn’t sinless. The steering was ridiculously overboosted, there were some cheap looking plastics, the dashboard design was weird and for the class cleap looking.

    On the other hand the start/stop and cylinder deactivation was feckin’ brilliant. We averaged 30.2 MPG over 1512 miles with 310 HP under my right foot. The seats were extremely comfortable wrapped in nice leather. Apple CarPlay, HUD, massaging seats, collision avoidance, lane keeping, etc. etc. etc. Oh, and the infotainment and HVAC had the right redundant analog controls that were easy to use.

    The issues of the previous generation of even cheaper materials, too many buttons, and a small trunk were all addressed.

    We got numerous compliments, and people saying, “wow, Buick has really come a long way,” and, “I really like the new Buicks.”

    The most surprising reactions came from the Even Hotel in Omaha, Nebraska. Even targets millennials with ping pong tables in the lobby, classy casual style, massive gym with top end equipment, yoga, and other features that baby boomers would cringe at. The clientele at the Even gave multiple positive comments on the big Buick in rental car silver.

    After all these electrons I’ll freely admit I wouldn’t buy one as much as I liked it. It is too big for where we live, parking would be an issue and it isn’t utilitarian enough. I’m not going to be filling that trunk with bags of potting soil for the wife.

    Yup, SUVs rule.

  • avatar
    JDG1980

    One newer factor I think may be overlooked is that Detroit, for some reason, is much stingier with driver-aid features than their Japanese and South Korean competitors.

    I’m in the market for a new(er) car and was intrigued by the low prices on ex-rental Chevy Impalas. Consumer Reports raves about the quiet and smooth ride, reliability seems OK, and surprisingly the Impala actually has enough headroom for my 6’6″ height. But, unfortunately, adaptive cruise control is only available on the top Premier trim, and then only as an option package. And that package also includes 20″ wheels – so you can’t get the perfect road trip car, you either need to give up ride smoothness with those insane wheels, or forego adaptive cruise. In contrast, Honda and Toyota put adaptive cruise and the other driver-aid features on almost all their new vehicles except in the very lowest trims.

    Detroit needs to get with the program – these are no longer optional extras, but increasingly are a part of what new car buyers expect. Leave them off the lowest trim for cheap fleet sales if you must, but they should be on most cars in dealer lots.

  • avatar

    Americans disrespect own national anthem and flag. How do you expect them to even consider American cars? America = bad is a new normal for the long time already.

    • 0 avatar
      BobNelson

      Inside Looking Out,

      I go to an occasional NBA game. Eighty-four regular season games, plus playoffs. THAT is disrespectful! The anthem should be something special, not something ordinary. The result is that singers go nuts with ludicrous vocal effects, hoping to differentiate themselves from all the others. The anthem gets lost in the vocal fireworks.

      The flag and the anthem represent, among other rights, freedom of speech. It is shameful to invoke them in an attempt to silence dissent.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      the most precious individual right we have in this country is the right enumerated by the First Amendment; the right to criticize this country, its government, and the symbols which represent it.

      “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

      Unfortunately we’ve come to believe “patriotism” is just mindless flag-f**king and repeated “USA! USA! USA!” chanting. The founders wouldn’t have enshrined the right to assemble, protest, and petition the government for redress in the FIRST ENTRY OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS if they didn’t think the right to do so was really damn important. This country isn’t perfect, and no country is. the founders understood that, and made sure to protect people who would seek to improve it.

      I’m pretty sad that so many people think “respect” now means “blind submission to authority, so long as said authority aligns with my political beliefs.” So many other countries vilify, jail, and execute opponents of the state. It’s disgusting that so many of you want the US to be like them; vilifying, harassing, and depriving of livelihood people who criticize the way things are.

      • 0 avatar
        BobNelson

        JimZ,

        Bravo!!

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        Why not…we’ve come to believe that the second amendment should be limited by the irrational fears of some a$$hats.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        I love it when I see a social justice warrior pretending to care about free speech. Where was this sentiment when the NFL said players couldn’t have stickers on their shoes commemorating fallen police officers? Where was it when your fellow micky-maoist club members were attacking Ben Shapiro on college campuses? Imbecile puppets dancing to false lyrics can protest whatever they want. I’m not going to pay them to do it, and I’m not going to support anyone who is paying them to do it. Were you upset when Google clamped down on someone for expressing their views?

        • 0 avatar
          BobNelson

          Calm, rational conversation…

          The mark of a solid intelligence.

          • 0 avatar

            Your comments prove my point that anti-americanism is a new normal in US.

          • 0 avatar
            BobNelson

            Inside Looking Out,

            “Your comments prove my point that anti-americanism is a new normal in US.”

            Not exactly. The new normal is, in reality, “Intentionally offensive one-line zingers replace intelligent conversation.”

            You seem to be defining “anti-Americanism” as disagreement with you. That’s kinda egotist, ya know…

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Inside,
      I do believe they are not disrespecting the flag.

      They are using the flag as an instrument of freedom, defending the less fortunate.

      Trump is disrespecting peoples freedom. Man, he doesn’t even know Puerto Ricans are Americans and addresses them as “they” and “their island”.

  • avatar
    John R

    I guess the good news is that the Chevy SS has become that much more attainable.


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