Truck Takeover: Automakers Selling Twice as Many Trucks as Cars, Report Says

Is the decline of the sedan's popularity a trend or a permanent market shift?

Just going for a drive around just about any block in America makes it clear that crossovers are taking over as our favorite kind of vehicle to drive. With sedan sales plummeting and some major manufacturers pulling out of the sedan game entirely, it’s starting to look like what began as a trend is turning into a permanent market shift. According to Automotive News, trucks outsold cars by a ratio of more than 2-to-1 this year through May.

When we say “trucks,” we’re using it as a catch-all term to cover SUVs, crossovers, and pickups. All of the above are technically classified as “light trucks” and fall under the same broad category putting a Kia Soul in the same boat as a Ford F-150. Despite the variation, these stats still speak strongly to the rapid decline of the traditional car.

Part of the reason for this phenomenon is people making the switch from a car to a truck and never going back. A lot of people consider moving from a car to an SUV, crossover, or pickup to be an upgrade and wouldn’t consider downgrading back to a sedan or hatchback. This is especially true now because of the abundance of options of crossovers in every shape and size to suit any taste, any necessity, and any budget.

Data from Edmunds show that in January through May of 2018, only 53 percent of people who traded in a car bought another car, with that number steadily declining since 2014. Forty percent of these shoppers exchange their car for an SUV or crossover while 6.3 percent of them get a pickup.

And it sounds like the car market is only going to continue shrinking. Jeff Schuster, president of LMC Automotive’s Americas operation, predicts that trucks could make up 75 to 80 percent of light-vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2025. That’s partly based on the Bank of America Merrill Lynch forecast that says 71 percent of new vehicles introduced between the 2019 and 2022 model years will be light trucks.

Manufacturers are putting cars out to pasture and replacing them with crossovers not only because they’re more profitable, but because that’s what people want to drive.