Commentary: Bring Back Sedans Again?
Yes, some sedans are still selling. There is a movement towards introducing sedans to some lineups – in particular, battery-electric ones.
Some headlines may be hard to believe.
For example, there had been some headlines floating around the automotive press about certain sales trends that are proven to be semi-accurate. Yes, some sedans are still selling. There is a movement towards introducing sedans to some lineups – in particular, battery-electric ones.
There is evidence that there is life still in the sedan market. For example, the Chevrolet Malibu is still selling strong with a 45.8-percent increase in the first quarter of 2023, compared to the same period in 2022. It is worth noting that Malibu sales have outpaced the Bolt EV/EUV by almost double within the first quarter of the year.
General Motors also reported that Cadillac earned double-digit sales growth for their CT4 and CT5 sedans.
The same trends have been repeated over at Honda with double-digit sales growth on both the Civic and Accord. While the Hyundai Elantra also experienced double-digit sales growth, the larger Sonata had a triple-digit sales jump in April of 2023.
These are just example of how sedans have started to regain momentum in terms of vehicle sales and deliveries. Yet, one wonders whether these numbers were a fluke. Or, perhaps a trend back to regular ol’ cars.
One could say that these figures may be skewed. After all, supply chain issues created a chasm between supply and demand. Certain models had to be ordered in contrast to pre-COVID-19 Pandemic levels of inventory. Could it be that certain manufacturers were able to deliver sedan models a bit readily than more high-demand SUVs?
Still, the fervor towards a revival of the sedan is not much of one. The industry had committed towards selling SUVs for families that once relied on sedans and minivans to transport them comfortably. Rather, working commuters also relied on sedans for the edge on better fuel consumption.
If you look beyond North America, you can see that China still sells sedans at competitive volumes to SUVs. GM introduced a new generation LaCrosse for that market and Lincoln has a sedan that dictated the design language of the upcoming 2024 Nautilus SUV.
There is a lot to be said about a sedan. Yet, it would have to be seen through the lens of the consumer. Does a consumer really want a sedan in an SUV/Crossover dominated marketplace? Not just in North America, but in Australia where the trend towards the SUV is prevalent.
If I step aside the factual arguments, I would advocate that perhaps some manufacturers should revisit the sedan. I’ll even add station wagons into this conversation.
Why? While SUVs and Crossovers have advantages that enable them to offer more passenger and cargo space, a commanding driving position and greater viability to other motorists. Yet, a sedan still pips the SUV with improved fuel economy and easier maneuverability.
Then again, these arguments for the sedan are completely moot, if you look at the current lineups of Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Audi, Mazda, Volkswagen, Dodge, Cadillac, Infiniti, Subaru, Alfa Romeo, Chevrolet – among the select brands that still sell sedans.
You can definitely add the Hyundai IONIQ 6 and the upcoming Volkswagen ID.7 to the mix, as they represent a new wave of sedans with battery-electric propulsion systems.
If would be nice if some brands would sell sedans again. Maybe some electric ones? Or, not.
All photos by Randy Stern