Falling Small Car Demand Is Nothing New In The U.S.

As SUVs and crossovers have become increasingly popular, demand for small cars (and by that, we ,ainly mean sedan and hatchback bodystyles) has dwindled in the United States. However, this is nothing new and according to analysts, the small car market is simply returning to historical norms.

The Detroit News reports that many automakers brought a plethora of small vehicles to the U.S. in anticipation of rising fuel prices. This hasn’t happened and as gas prices have settled at exceptional lows, new car buyers have started to purchase larger and less frugal vehicles.

The discontinuation of the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart a couple of years ago seems to have been the trigger for falling small car demand.

“I can tell you right now that both the Chrysler 200 and the Dodge Dart, as great products as they were, were the least financially rewarding enterprises that we’ve carried out inside FCA in the last eight years,” FCA chief executive Sergio Marchionne has said. “I don’t know one investment that was as bad as these two were.”

Having a small car in the U.S. is simply inconvenient

The U.S. boss of small cars for Volkswagen Jan Dickmann says small cars also don’t make all that much sense in the United States, especially when compared to Europe.

“You’re not feeling safe in a very small car next to a really big pickup. In Europe small cars are driven by (high) gasoline prices and we have a lot of really small villages with really small streets. And we have a different culture in parking. Here you go into a parking lot. In Europe you really have to circle in your small car (to find) a small street space.”

It is a similar story for sedans, Kelley Blue Book auto analyst Karl Brauer says, asserting that they are unlikely to regain popularity from SUVs. After all, many SUVs now come equipped with small and efficient powertrains and are no longer the gas-guzzling boats they once were.

  • Nihar

    Rollovers are still a thing. The 200 and Dart were discontinued because they were poorly Executed products. I do wish the Neon from Mexico was available here, though. Is it bigger, smaller, or the same size as the Dart?

    https://i.ytimg.com/vi/JMnu9DB2jao/maxresdefault.jpg

    https://http2.mlstatic.com/dodge-neon-16-sxt-at-desde-10-de-enganche-D_NQ_NP_557621-MLM20835233595_072016-F.jpg

    • HUBEMX

      I hope not. The mexican Dodge Neon its just a crappy Fiat rebadged.

  • LJ

    When gas prices go back up, and they will, small cars will come back. Until then, the luxury of lower fuel costs allows for the driving of larger, more spacious and flexible crossovers/suvs. And unlike many places in Europe, we have nothing but space here in the ‘States, so big cars aren’t a problem.

  • PhilMcGraw

    Gas prices are already starting to rise back to levels seen under the Obama years, so I really doubt all these supposed “analysts” thinking sedans aren’t going to become popular again.

    It is true that crossovers offer more efficient drive trains than they once did, but even small crossovers like the Mazda CX-3 and Nissan Rogue Sport only top out in the low 30s on highway mpg. Midsize sedans like the Accord now have more interior space that makes them in actuality large sedans and they can easily get 40 mpg on the highway, if not more. A 10 mpg difference is going to matter a lot when gas rises back up to $3.50 on average.

    • Iberian Rekluse

      But analysts are experts and can’t be wrong…

  • Trackhacker

    Small engines in SUV’s have lead them to being super slow and rubbish. Sedans for LIFE! I see ZERO reason.

    • Michael_66589

      Big engines in small cars are good, but small engines in big cars are so bad.

  • Honda NSX-R

    That’d change if gas prices went back up

  • Socarboy

    We in the USA have been lucky that gasoline has been cheap the last 4 years, all that can change overnight with a crisis in the Middle East, or a hurricane in the Gulf so when you sign on the dotted line for that gas guzzler that is going to be financed for the next 5 or 6 years a lot can happen during the duration of that loan.

  • That’s one vicious circle. So we probably won’t see expansion from PSA or Renault-Nissan soon.

  • DGC

    $4.00 a gallon in Chicago is falling gas prices? I will never give into the SUV craze! Parking, efficiency and fun to drive are the top on my list! Golf R, Golf GTI, Focus RS or even the Golf Alltrack are all the cars you really need!

  • DGC

    I would rather have a FIAT 500 Abarth than a Dodge or Chrysler anything any day of the week!

    • Ed Ward

      Lmao 🤣, the The Fiat 500 Abarth, really?, a golf cart with leather seats. I’d rather have a BICYCLE over anything engineered by Factory-Italy-Auto-Turin gibberish trash.

  • Kyle Newberry

    Will never understand why people want SUV that are not all that bigger than sedan platforms they are based on. I’d take a hatchback all day!

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