Nissan executive believes sedans will make a comeback: SUVs to become boring family cars

While SUV’s maybe trending, Nissan's head of product development feels that the sedan body style will make a comeback. 

By: | Published: July 22, 2019 1:10 PM

As the millennials move away from investing in personal transport, seeking the convenience of ride-sharing platforms like Uber, a Bloomberg reports says that Nissan’s Global head of product development believes that the humble sedan will make its return.

The best selling four-wheeled vehicle of all time may be the Toyota Corolla, Modern trends have made the Ford F-Series Pick-up trucks as the best selling vehicle year-on-year, and the truck is sold in only a handful of countries. While the top 20 best selling cars globally do include Japanese sedans like the Camry, Corolla, Civic, Accord and the Nissan Sentra, the list is dominated by Japanese and American SUVs and pick-up trucks. Due to which, Ford will be cutting down its production of passenger and sports cars down to just 10% from 2020.

However, Nissan’s newly appointed chief of product planning, Ivan Espinosa with 15 years of experience in the industry has other ideas. Talking to Bloomberg, Espinosa said “SUVs might gradually be seen as a boring family car in the future. We’re starting to see some customers associate some of the SUVs that are on offer today to what the minivans were before — soccer mom cars.” Espinosa substantiates his claims with a survey conducted by Nissan of drivers who don’t own a sedan in 11 markets including the U.S. and China. The findings show that 75% of respondents said they would consider buying a sedan now or in the future. For millennials, Nissan found that the figure climbed to 8 in 10. Additionally, he says that the sedan might be the right vehicle for a new generation of ecologically-conscious younger drivers. While millennials prefer to use services like Uber and Lyft (many of which are sedans), they’re more interested in electric cars, which are usually sedans because less heavy metal usually translates into greater battery range.

In regions like South America and China, sedans are more popular than utes. Mid-sized long wheel base sedans are what most Chinese customers aspire to own, and most well-off Chinese customers prefer. Even government officials prefer to be driven around in chauffeured sedans. Nissan alone sold 514,000 sedans in China last year and the manufacturer claims sedans will continue to make up at least half of its sales in China and South America.

However, automotive analysts like Tatsuo Yoshida from Sawakami Asset Management Inc told Bloomberg that “I can understand the logic that SUVs are losing the cool attribute because of product proliferation. But that doesn’t mean customers will return to cars. This seems to be a leap of logic to me.”

Our Take

The views expressed by Espinosa may have some merit and seem to be the logical choice. However, modern trends have shown that they tend not to side with logic. The trend for SUVs and utility vehicles in the modern scenario by the numbers seem like they are growing, but the demand for sedans and other body styles will most definitely remain is some form in some markets surely. When it comes to being lighter and aero efficient, battery technology is only improving to allow for driving ranges to increase by a significant margin. While SUVs will be far less efficient than a sedan as dictated by the laws of physics, the impact may not be as significant to deter the popularity of SUVs. Of course, like the Station Wagon and MPVs that became popular in most markets, SUVs will most likely become the boring family car. But when it comes to sales numbers, the SUV may just reign supreme unless we see a significant shift in the trend.

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