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Consumers Want Large Pickups and Compacts--Especially Crossovers

By: Philly Murtha, 10/23/2013
Both large and small vehicles appealed to U.S. consumers in the first three quarters of 2013. Large pickup trucks--especially the Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado--and compact crossovers (CUVs)--including the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape--sold particularly well in the U.S. market during the first three quarters of 2013, according to sales data collected by J.D. Power. Overall, one in eight vehicles purchased in the United States during the first nine months of 2013 was a compact CUV or a large pickup.

Demand for large pickups has been especially strong so far this year. A continuing recovery in the commercial sector--including energy and housing construction businesses--has boosted large pickup sales, as truck sales in the United States climbed 19.95% from last year's same nine-month period. The top-volume model was the F-Series, continuing a trend that has sustained for 31 consecutive years. More than one-half million (537,600) light- and heavy-duty F-Series trucks were sold during the first three quarters of 2013. Also, the redesigned Silverado light-duty and heavy-duty models and the Ram/Ram HD trucks were among the top five sellers in the United States. Year-to-date, large pickups accounted for slightly less than a 12% market share.

Four of the 20 best-selling models in the United States were compact CUVs. In addition to the CR-V and Escape, the Chevrolet Equinox and Toyota RAV4 also rank among the top 20 sellers this year. In addition, compact CUV sales soared 19.73% from 2013, and the market share for this category was up by nearly 1.2 points to 12.75% in 2013. Nearly 1.5 million compact CUVs have been delivered in 2013. That's some 93,400 units more than large pickup sales totals.

Crossovers, which are car-based utility vehicles, were popular in both the compact and midsize categories. The midsize CUV segment also outpaced the industry during the first nine months. Segment sales were up 13.33% from last year and market share rose to 8.59%. The Ford Explorer was the top-selling midsize CUV model, followed by the Ford Edge and Toyota Highlander. More than 1.01 million midsize CUVs were sold during the first three quarters of 2013.

Gas Prices Easing, But Small Cars Still Popular among U.S. Shoppers
The smallest car models--compacts and sub-compacts--remained popular in the U.S. market through September. Both small car segments (combined) accounted for nearly one-fifth of industry sales. In recent weeks, prices at the gas pump have been declining. However, the average price of a gallon of gas has remained consistently high during the past three years, based on AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. Through the first nine months of 2013, some 15.4% of industry sales were compact conventional models. The Honda Civic was the top-selling model in the category, followed by the Toyota Corolla and Chevrolet Cruze. In all, more than 1.8 million of these compact conventional cars were sold during the first nine months of 2013, up from 1.67 million in the same period a year ago.

Sub-compact conventional models, which make up only 4% of the market, maintained a slight edge in consumer demand. More than 475,000 of these smaller vehicles were delivered this year, up from 440,000 during the first nine months a year ago. The Nissan Versa was the best-seller, followed by the Chevrolet Sonic and the Hyundai Accent.

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