Toyota Exec: SUVs to Overtake Sedans
The Toyota Camry, the top-selling car in America for the last 13 years, may have finally met its match. Despite creating one of the best-selling automobiles in history in the Camry, Toyota believes the archetypal sedan — nearly synonymous with the word “car” itself — may not be the prevailing mode of transportation for much longer. Its replacement? The compact SUV. Specifically, the RAV4.
Top Toyota USA executive Bob Carter, speaking at a Toyota-sponsored holiday party in Detroit, foretold of a future in which the RAV4, the company’s compact crossover, outsells the Camry. He thinks compact SUVs will bump economical sedans as people’s “default vehicle” sometime within the next five years as millennials, the children of the baby boomers, embrace small SUVs as the new family car.
“Many of these under-35-year-old buyers, who are entering the market in a big way right now, grew up in SUVs,” Carter says.
The Camry has been America’s best-selling passenger car for 13 years, and is estimated to reach 425,000 in sales by 2015’s end. Comparatively, Toyota predicts it will sell 300,000 RAV4s, up 16 percent from last year. However, together, compact SUVs — including the Honda CRV, Nissan Rogue, and Ford Escape — are already outselling mid-sized sedans.
What’s driving this shift in buying patterns? SUVs — or more precisely, car-based crossovers — are getting better mileage than when truck-based sport utilities first came into fashion in the 1990s. Millennials and baby boomers entering their empty nest years are turning to small SUVs because they don’t have the poor fuel economy, high price and rugged ride once associated with off-road vehicles built on truck frames. Modern compact SUVs are derived from the smooth-riding, mechanical underpinnings of compact cars.
Japanese brands are in charge of the US car market. They are calling the shots, and they see further into the future than everybody else. In November, the RAV4 shot up by 30%, way ahead of the general market.
Though most RAV4s sold in the US are built here, Toyota is already importing Japan-built RAV4s to meet demand. A new plant being constructed in Canada will be able to boost North American capacity to 400,000.
Looks like it’s just in time.
Come on over to Elmhurst Toyota to test drive a RAV4 today!