The Sedan is Dying

by | Oct 12, 2020

1972 Cadillac Deville Sedan

Since 2010, sales of sedans in the U.S. have fallen by half. Drivers instead are choosing S.U.V.s and light trucks. In 2019 S.U.V.’s were 47.4% of new auto sales while sedans were just 22.1%. Source. While S.U.V.s have been gaining popularity since the 1990s, the seismic shift has occurred recently: 2015 was the first year that S.U.V.s outsold sedans.

This chart shows the sales of cars (sedans) vs. light trucks, which includes S.U.V.s, crossovers, mini-vans and pickups, from 2003 through mid-2019:


It’s a pretty remarkable dispersion in sales over the past five years and it’s projected to continue. By 2025 the share of light trucks and S.U.V.s is expected to climb to 78% from the 70% shown above. Source. This trend will be helped along by Ford which is discontinuing the sale and production of sedans and GM which is down to producing just three sedans.

Here are the top selling vehicles in the U.S. in 2019 according to Edmunds:

  1. Ford F Series
  2. Chevy Silverado
  3. Dodge Ram pickup
  4. Toyota RAV 4
  5. Honda CR-V
  6. Honda Civic
  7. Chevy Equinox
  8. Toyota Camry
  9. Honda Accord
  10. Toyota Corolla

Why the shift away from sedans? According to an automotive analyst at IHS Markit, “it comes down to practicality, ride height, baby boomers and, well, vanity.” Source.

But trends come and go. While Ford and GM are betting on the sedan’s demise, Nissan thinks sedans will make a comeback. According to a Nissan executive:

The sedan might be the right vehicle for a new generation of ecologically-conscious younger drivers. They spend less on transport, get around using Uber or Lyft (many of them sedans) and aren’t as attracted to SUVs. They’re more interested in electric cars, which are usually sedans because less heavy metal usually translates into greater battery range. The argument has some merit: Tesla Inc.’s top-selling EVs, the Model S and Model 3, are both sedans.

It’s possible that a decade from now S.U.V.s will be viewed like the mini-van and sedans will make a comeback.

1 Comment

  1. Sales of sedans are falling due to ride height. Ride height has fallen to reduce drag, thus improving fuel efficiency. Fuel efficiency improvement has been mandated by our government. The “greens” have unwittingly destroyed the sedan. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, it is simply another unintended consequence of governmental regulation. My 47 Chevy sedan has the same ride height as a new SUV.


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