By on August 11, 2020

2020 Honda Civic Coupe Sport - Image: HondaThe disappearance of midsize cars, the dismal performance of traditional family sedans, and the eradication of affordable small cars account for the lion’s share of headlines when auto reporters discuss the dwindling American passenger car market. But tucked inside America’s car sector are a handful of fun cars – intentionally impractical two-doors – that muster a mere fraction of the market share they produced just 10 years ago.

In other words, you can’t buy a Honda Accord Coupe or a Kia Forte Koup or a Buick Cascada or a Lexus IS250C in 2020 precisely because buyers of such cars no longer exist in sufficient numbers. Scratch that: buyers of such cars didn’t exist in sufficient numbers when the option was provided to justify offering comparable successors.

How bad is it? We asked J.D. Power’s vice president of data and analytics, Tyson Jominy. And we got answers. 

2005 Honda Civic EX Coupe. - Image: HondaANCIENT HISTORY

Rewind a full decade. Although convertible market share fell by nearly half between 2005 and 2010, coupe market share was actually stronger coming out of the Great Recession than it was in 2005. 4.4 percent of the new vehicles sold (on a retail basis) in the United States in 2010 were coupes. That’s roughly 500,000 sales in 2010.

Coupe options were plentiful in 2010. There were two-door versions of the Ford Focus and Nissan Altima (that you might prefer to forget), as well as genuine performance cars such as the Hyundai Genesis Coupe and Mazda RX-8, and premium options such as the Cadillac CTS Coupe.

2006 Honda Civic Si - Image: HondaRECENT HISTORY

By 2015, two-door versions of the Focus, Altima, and CTS were gone. So was the RX-8. The Genesis Coupe had just one more year. These were far from the only signs of coupe rejection. Buyers were fleeing. The market share of coupes, J.D. Power’s Jominy tells TTAC, had fallen a tick below 3 percent. Convertible market share, meanwhile, collapsed from 2.2 percent to just 0.7 percent over the course of a decade. Were panoramic sunroofs to blame, or was there a much broader anti-car movement at play?

Undoubtedly, America’s shift away from traditional cars played a role in all car segments. But while other bodystyles saw their collective market share decrease by around 15 percent between 2010 and 2015, coupe market share decreased at more than twice that rate.

2015 Honda Civic Coupe red - Image: HondaTODAY

2020’s first-half presented far worse numbers, however — the kind of figures that tell you why Honda isn’t going to bother with a Civic Coupe after the 2020 model year; why Mercedes-Benz is considering the elimination of two-door Cs, Es, and Ss. Coupe market share through the first-half of 2020 is down to just 1.76 percent, Jominy says.

Convertibles? From more than 2 percent in 2005, droptops now own just a quarter of that: 0.54 percent. 15 years ago convertibles were already a narrow niche, claiming 2 out of every 100 light vehicle sales. Now they account for 1 out of every 200 vehicles driven off the dealer lot.

TOMORROW

Making matters worse is the simple math that makes it difficult for a sector of the auto market to bounce back. Use the much larger sedan market as a harbinger. “Sedans were 32 percent of sales in 2015, but today they are 19 percent, year-to-date,” Jominy says. “That 19 percent is comprised of owners returning to market from a time when one-third of vehicles were sedans. Every year, the returning owner base is shrinking so sales are going to continue to wither.”

Fast forward to 2025. How many automakers do you expect will be keen to wait around for today’s loyal base of coupe buyers – certainly a very thin base if ever there was one – to return for another taste?

Fortunately, the fun car exists in four-door form. Quite plentifully, as you can still access cars like the Subaru WRX and Honda Civic Si at very affordable price points. But we should probably stop pretending that two-door legends we know and love are on solid footing.

[Images: Toyota, Honda]

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

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52 Comments on “Wondering Why the Honda Civic Coupe Has to Die? Coupe Market Share Is Down 60 Percent Over the Last Decade...”


  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Honda should absolutely offer a Civic Coupe…at Acura dealers with Integra badges and a body that doesn’t look like someone built it for a Fast and Furious movie.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Somebody hire Art as brand manager at Acura.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I love the idea, Art, but what makes you think it’d sell?

      As much as it pains me to say it, small, sporty coupes are pretty much goners, and I don’t think it matters who makes them.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I’m not sure it would sell @FreedMike, but they could at least sell it for more money which could offset the lower numbers. In theory at least, the fun > practical crowd that gravitates towards these coupes per the article is likely willing to pay more for the privilege (as was the case of the original Integra vs. Civic). You’d still have the 4 door Integra, but have the coupe be an Acura exclusive and be sure to include a true Type R version that is 2 door only.

        If they are bent on keeping Acura around, they should get some product that gives people reason to come to the showroom. Granted this is a small segment and won’t keep the lights on, but they are still selling (or trying to sell) the ILX so why not give people one that is competitive and actually fills the niche.

        I would buy the above car. I know others would. I don’t know if enough would to make it viable, but I don’t know anyone that has the current ILX on their radar so this would at least be an improvement.

  • avatar
    AnalogMan

    Yes, coupe market share is down, and the burgeoning global financial crisis due to the pandemic is putting the squeeze on all companies and forcing car makers to focus on the big-selling money-makers. I get it.

    But a coupe will still almost always look better than a 4 door sedan, and better looking cars are more fun.

    A coupe says, ‘fun is my top priority, the hell with practicality, I want nice styling to go along with a great driving experience’. A four door sedan says, ‘I have kids I have to consider, I really want a coupe but I have to be practical and have four doors and a back seat the kids can get into’. There are certainly fun four door sedans (one of my cars is a WRX), but they just will never have the same *feeling* and emotional appeal as a swoopy coupe.

    It’s simple. Coupes can be sexy. A sedan rarely is (the Jaguar Mark II is one of the few exceptions). When you park and walk away from your car, you look back at a coupe and think *yeah!* But how often do you do that with a sedan?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “But a coupe will still almost always look better than a 4 door sedan”

      “Almost” being the key word there. I have no children, but IMO a lot of recent-ish coupes are worse looking than their sedan counterparts. For example I’d get a 3-series over the newest 4-Series just because the 3 doesn’t look like a demented beaver. I liked the CTS sedan more than the coupe because the 2-door had a GIANT a$$ and awkward proportions. In 2014 I bought a Charger over the Challenger because the Challenger’s retro look was a little too “Beach Boys Dairy Queen Cruise Night” for my tastes.

      • 0 avatar

        The focus coupe was really bad.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          The Focus coupe was essentially a “two-door sedan”.

          https://www.curbsideclassic.com/automotive-histories/automotive-history-the-two-door-sedan-1920-2008-its-history-and-the-last-2-door-sedan-for-each-brand-and-model-us-market/

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Just as a counterpoint to myself, there have been some some good-looking coupes as well during this time (ATS, Astra, 1G Forte, 1G A5, every 6-series, etc.) So it’s really on a case-by-case basis rather than a universal “coupe = better looking” rule

      • 0 avatar
        chiefmonkey

        A fairer statement is that coupes and sedans together are always more attractive than crossover vehicles! Heck add wagons too.

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        Almost every vehicle on the road is carrying the driver and no one else.
        Those two extra doors are almost always wasted.

        Growing up in a family of 7 with a Beetle as the family car, we would have loved to have our “own” doors in the back. In 2020, however, passenger seats are usually just extra weight being hauled around.

  • avatar
    jmo

    I was reading something about a women who went about tracking down her Dad’s late 60s early 70s 911. She said something about him having bought it during the Man Men era. Which got me thinking that the glory days of the coupe. In those days (Don Draper in his Chrysler 300 and Mike Brady in his Baraccuda) it was the dad who had the coupe while the mom had the station wagon. Why? Well, dad isn’t going to be driving the kids around. He’s going from work to the country club to maybe taking his wife out Saturday night. The kids were someone else’s department.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenn

      I was just thinking the same thing. I recall coupes – especially high-performance 2-doors – being for “men-only,” while 4-door sedans were for women, i.e., mothers with children (in earlier times, that’s all most women were ultimately supposed to look forward to). Sedans and wagons were also put into service, once a year, for family vacation duty.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Don Draper did not have a Chrysler 300 – he had two Coupe DeVilles, a ’62 and a ’65 (which he ended up giving away). He also had some ordinary-guy rides before he traded up for the Caddy (I want to say it was a Pontiac or a Dodge).

      He did drive a red-over-white Imperial LeBaron convertible in one episode. I drooled shamelessly over that car.

      (Also, Betty Draper ended up with an even cooler ride – a ’61 Lincoln Continental she inherited when her dad died.)

      • 0 avatar
        Johnster

        Yeah, but, the car was cursed and Betty didn’t have it for very long before she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. (Of course, all that smoking didn’t help the poor woman.)

  • avatar
    pathfinderdoorhandle

    In 1989 Nissan replaced its hot selling, two-door Pathfinder Hardbody with a four-door version. The reason was a hike to import tariffs imposed on two-door trucks to give American manufacturers a leg up with their Rangers, S10s, et al. “Leveling the playing field,” it was called. The loophole for Nissan was that four-door trucks were considered cars and thus exempt from the higher tariff. The problem for Nissan was that nobody wanted to be seen driving a FOUR DOOR ANYTHING back then. Decidedly uncool.

    So Nissan conjured up a very convincing trompe l’oeil by placing a black rear door handle vertically in the black C pillar, rendering it virtually invisible. At a glance the four-door Pathfinder looked exactly like the previous two-door. Problem solved.

    The funny part is that over time four-door vehicles, especially trucks, became more popular than two-doors, yet Nissan nevertheless persisted with the Pathfinder’s vertical rear door handle. No longer was it hidden but was instead prominently displayed, with the company extolling its ergonomic origins. And applying it to their other SUV, the Xterra.

    The most recent Pathfinder has finally abandoned the ruse and sports conventionally horizontal door handles fore and aft.

    So one more two-door bites the dust. Gee, ain’t it funny how time slips away (thanks Willie).

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      It wasn’t just the imports. The Bronco II and 2-door S-10 Blazer went away about the same time, although one could argue the Bronco II morphed into the Explorer.

      The fullsize Blazer became the Tahoe, you could say. And the Expedition was the new fullsize Bronco “replacement”.

      We also lost the 2-door Cherokee in the era. It was just a sign of the times.

      • 0 avatar
        la834

        The popularity of the four-door XJ Cherokee, introduced in 1984, had alot to do with this as well. I’m astonished it took GM, Ford, and the Japanese imports 5-7 years to start making their own four door midsize SUVs.

        We are actually gaining a 2 door next year with the new Bronco.

  • avatar

    Cruising cheap sedans for sale…. Look that Elantra is awfully cheap, coupe and a manual …. ooooh that’s why. Also had completely forgotten they make those.

  • avatar
    pathfinderdoorhandle

    Yup, two different cars. Always like the Gen Coupe.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    There are now 5 fixed roof coupes available in the US for under $40k – 370Z, BRZ/86, Camaro, Challenger, Mustang. 6 if you count Mini.

    The coupe market has been eroded at its base. Obviously as you take the lowest priced options off the market demand as a whole will drop. Lower priced coupes used to be the huge sellers for the youth market. Every small car had a 2-door version. But as bean counters examined things it became tough to argue against eliminating a second tooling for each platform. So at the end of the generations the coupes died off. It’s easier to convince someone to buy a 4-door when looking for a coupe than the other way around.

    Car companies still made money on their coupes, but they make more money on the crossovers and if you take the lowest profit option away people still need cars so they move on to the higher profit cars. Plus the buyer gets the added (though inaccurate) perception that they are getting more for their money.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I like coupes since I’m a tall guy. In most recent sedans and crossovers I’ve driven, when I have the seat pushed all the way back, I can’t see out the window to my left without pushing my head forward. Otherwise I’m looking at the B-pillar post.

    A coupe gives me better visibility.

    (and they look better)

  • avatar
    volvo

    It’s the demographics.

    Past 45 years old back seat access is increasingly difficult for passengers. And the longer front door more difficult to open fully in ever narrowing parking spaces.

    Friends don’t force friends to ride in the back of a coupe.

    Also I suspect, but without data to confirm, that under 40 car ownership as percent of population is declining.

    Also autos are becoming less of a statement and more of a functional tool for an increasing percent of the population.

    • 0 avatar
      dmulyadi

      Guess you are right? Car is a symbol of freedom. You don’t have to commute in a crowded mass transit, less likely get cut, stab or molested. Yes I live in NYC subway is always more interesting especially at night or early morning. Plus kids nowadays are more dependent on their parents, Uber drivers, or friends who have cars to travel further. They don’t really have that adventurous like kids in the past. Everything they know is on the palm of their hand. Yeah technology killed real life. We almost there that zombie apocalypse.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @volvo: “Friends don’t force friends to ride in the back of a coupe.”

      —- Exactly! Which means I get asked less often to give someone a ride to some place for whatever reason and I get to have some measure of privacy as I drive. That’s also why I hate crew cab trucks, because that full back seat arrangement is simply a waste of interior space and a loss of bed length where 6+ feet used to be normal but so many beds today can’t even claim 5+ feet of length with the tailgate closed. And certainly a split-door design like we saw on the Saturn Ion works well for parking at the mall while still avoiding the need to carry more than one passenger.

      And you’d be surprised how many people still use their vehicles as a statement of personality. They’re just forced to use third-party methods to give individuality to their cars today.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    So… exactly what are we supposed to do with the information in this piece, Tim? We know coupes are disappearing – almost as fast as manuals and faster than sedans.

    Most young people, with a few exceptions, don’t care about driving at all. Which makes the future look pretty dim for driving and auto enthusiasts. Are we supposed to pretend that we’re excited about four-door alternatives when we really aren’t? The same question applies to CUVs, CVTs, EVs and “driver assistance” technology.

    Or should we just admit now that there’ll soon be no reason for enthusiast publications – in print or online – to exist? And that we can scratch yet one more interest that we have off the list because the frightened masses, clinging to their virtual lives, don’t get it?

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Speaking personally, I have been feeling less interested in the new crop of car articles that comes out each quarter. More bland, less unusual, more boring, less interesting, more expensive, less affordable. I don’t like the idea that I have a significant portion of personal resources invested in a declining, even dying, area of interest. But what am I to think?

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    Loved and owned many coupes over the years. So they aren’t a thing anymore. Too bad. But I get why. In the cities there are too many zombies That will come for you. But as long as a few converts exist I will put the windows down and the top up and relive the best looking body style of all. The pillar less hardtop. At least in look. A BMW 5 series of the 2010 ish era does it rather well.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Coupe sales are down because nobody makes the kind of coupe people want. The Hyundai Veloster is one of the best and most popular coupes on the modern market while honestly, I want a return to the old lift back style in a sedan-sized vehicle.

    I intend to keep my Colorado until it dies but I’d still like a nice ‘toy’ car to drive when I’m just out for fun or doing my grocery getting. That Fiat 500 was a really fun grocery getter.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    I guess when people give up caring what they’re dressed like (track suits and yoga pants anyone?) they give up caring what their ride looks like. How else to explain the mania for vehicles that look like Uggs on four wheels?

    • 0 avatar
      gasser

      +1.
      The world has changed. Traffic in the cities and suburbs is horrible. Do you want to be in an open convertible next to a bus or a diesel truck?? Do you want to drive top down in bumper to bumper traffic down streets filled with pedestrians leering at you in a fancy car??
      For me the biggest problem with a coupe is the length of the doors. In parking lots the spots are so small that its almost impossible to get the door open wide enough for entry or exit from the car. And this is just speaking of the front seats. Good luck getting kids, in-laws or a big dog into the back of a two door coupe in one of today’s parking lots when your spot is between two SUVs, each of which is straddling the spot marker line.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I have it on good authority that Cardi B has a coupe, at least. And there are bags in it – too many bags, possibly, for it to comfortably contain.

  • avatar
    AutoPatriot

    I wonder if some of these car companies are smart enough to end then rebrand the market. Let’s say these 90s Japanese Rockstars plan to bank on limiting the coupes for a number of years,creating a demand and also eliminating the used coupe market in the process.
    Not to mention the first company to bring back a successfully designed coupe will make a killing.
    The demand is there,I am the market and auto manufactures seem to have lost connection.
    Since this post is about Honda we will use them for an example, say it’s 2028 there is nothing but Cuvs, SUVs, Trucks of all sizes, the few coupes left cost 40k+ if they are still around.

    All of a sudden a New Honda Prelude Si! (Hell a Crx , S2000, Accord coupe, even the return of the Civic coupe) 18k out the door with nothing but 16 inch Jdm white Honda wheels, minimum driving Aids except a nice clutch and tight 6 speed trans. No turbo preferably something very similar to b18 vtec engine.
    Nothing over the top for cosmetics, I say do a bit of a 90s theme towards conservative body lines.( Don’t make part of the mistake they are making today when the civic looks like it’s going 100mph when it’s sitting still. That’s the time you realize it’s not moving,
    and thats when the ugly hurts. No need to make a car with 200 horsepower look like a rocket ship.) I would still buy
    a 2020 civic si coupe, but that’s not enough they didn’t make enough of those to purchase.
    Thats it folks that’s all Honda will have to do. A return of what made them famous.The sales hurt me to think about! They wouldn’t be able to make enough of them.

    Alot of the same can be said of other manufactures. I can spit out a dream list for the likes of a Subaru 22b, Toyota Celica, Mr2, a Nissan 240sx, a 180sx, a Silvia, Sentra Ser coupe, a Ford Galaxy,Escort,Probe!?! 3000 gt,Rx7 Rx8 can we get a Rx9? seriously the list goes on and on.

    My point is once the market goes into slumber the manufacturer that brings “it” back, you know what I mean, the sexy personal adorable coupe is going to make a major profit. How many of these companies are aware of this and are waiting to capitalize?

    I bet it will be similar to the return of the Bronco. Okay okay I hope it’s like the return of the Bronco. Coupes are great but they are sadly rapidly disappearing.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I believe that enthusiast coupes would sell, but bare bones would not.

    Civic R? Yes.

    Civic EX? No.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      Let’s go back to Art’s idea.

      Civic Type R in adult clothes, in a two door, on the Acura lot, called Integra.

      (Me, I want such a car but in 4 door, so I’ll ask for that as well.)

      Oh–and Acura, please, give it reasonable rubber shoes for adult use. No more of this “we’ll wrap a rubber band around the rim because COOL!” crap.

      Remember, the Ferrari 308 used reasonable tires.

  • avatar
    dmulyadi

    Ahhhh.. this is the effects caused by manufactures “persuading” consumer that they need bigger cars. In reality do ppl stop buying sport cars? Nope. Does ppl actually fill their CUV or SUV seats with full passenger? Nope. In normal day you see most cars only driven by the driver. Is the number of birth rate in United State went up? I thought it’s going down? So why do ppl kept buying cars that they don’t really need? In 60 years of car history only USA kept changing it’s mind. Americans killed Wagons, hatchbacks, minis, small pick ups, now sedan, coupe, convertibles and soon minivan going to be gone from the road and what will we see on the road? Just huge pickup trucks, SUV and CUV. Wow…this gotta stop Americans have such a BORING taste. No wonders it’s always interesting to see why other markets still believe in selling all those cars that is gone plus more. They are maybe low volume seller but they still do offer them. Just move all those low selling in one damn factory and let the vanilla models produce at the rest of the factories. Is that so hard?

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      Manufacturers (not “manufactures”) have also been persuading consumers that they want either a white or a black car, or maybe silver.

      I’ll never forget pulling into the VW dealer a few years ago and seeing a literal SEA of white Jettas. I’m guessing the white paint dealer had a fire sale or something, and VW bought them out.

  • avatar
    dmulyadi

    Car companies still made money on their coupes, but they make more money on the crossovers and if you take the lowest profit option away people still need cars so they move on to the higher profit cars. Plus the buyer gets the added (though inaccurate) perception that they are getting more for their money.

    So in short bean counter made car brochure thinner and smaller. They think ppl don’t need to be different they all just wanted the same thing ewww.. disgusting!!! I owned many different cars in the past but never thought the day all those cars are gone
    1992 Accord coupe, 1990 Accord sedan, 1991 Accord sedan, 1993 Prelude VTEC, 1994 Legend GS, 1990 Previa, 1997 850GLT wagon, 2004 Element, 2005 Prius.

    And now I only have 1996 RAV4 2doors, 2012 CRZ and 2010 SX4 crossover. Do I need big SUV nope CUV maybe but why do still have a 2doors cars? Because they are different, they represent who you are. They are fun to look at to drive. Even to park too especially since I live in NYC street parking is never same everyday.

  • avatar
    dmulyadi

    +2 yes ppl really stop caring. They don’t mind becoming drone zombies like ppl like sheep if the magazine said this CUV is good they will get it. Sigh..should blame the manufacturer for manipulating the consumer.

  • avatar
    dmulyadi

    Hey maybe you do have a good point here. I noticed those old 1990s cars from Japan are now a hot selling thing in USA. Those kids who used to play Grand Turismo on PS1 now have the money to import their dream cars. Maybe there still hope for younger generation. Only hardcore car enthusiast will drive coupe, hatchbacks and gt cars since manufacturer stop selling the car the want and getting too expensive getting any entry level model cars too.

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    CUV owners were already dismissing 4-door sedans as being too impractical for their needs due to their low stance and roof lines (despite most having roomy back seats now) and “mail slot” trunks (despite growing in size and usability). Remove two doors and require front seat passengers to have the courtesy to exit the vehicle to let others in and out the vehicle and coupes don’t stand a chance.

    With the rare exception, only luxury marquee buyers will soon enjoy the choice of picking from a small selection of sedans, coups, and wagons, leaving the rest of the masses to drive or be driven in high riding cubes on wheels.

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