June 26, 2007

Midsize non-premium SUVs losing ground to crossovers, says J.D. Power


Ford Taurus X
Ford Taurus X. Click image to enlarge

Ford Taurus and Taurus X at the Chicago Auto Show–>

Westlake Village, California – The midsize non-premium SUV category is dramatically declining in the U.S., with buyers increasingly moving to crossover vehicles, according to data from J.D. Power and Associates’ Power Information Network (PIN). The company says that the SUV category was one of the largest segments in the new-vehicle industry, and the source of substantial profits for several automakers.

Shares of the total new-vehicle market for non-premium midsize SUVs have dropped 43 per cent since May 1997, and were just 5.2 per cent in May 2007. Sales volume for the midsize SUV segment overall has also dropped dramatically, down nearly 18 per cent from the first five months of 2006, to just 402,272 for the same period in 2007.

Loyalty for the segment is also down; the percentage of midsize SUV owners who trade in their vehicle for another of the same type has decreased from 29 per cent in May 2004, to 17 per cent in May 2007. Meanwhile, the percentage of owners who traded for a midsize crossover increased from 6 to 11 per cent during the same period.

“We can see the decline in this segment by looking at specific models like the Ford Explorer, which was the third most popular model in 1995, 1996 and 1998 in the United States,” says Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis at PIN. “But now, the Explorer ranks 46th through the first five months of this year, and there are no midsize utility models among the top 20 most popular vehicles in the country.”

Midsize SUV owners are also trading to compact and midsize conventional cars, with the percentage turning to compact cars climbing from 8 to 13 per cent from May 2004 to May 2007, and the percentage over the same period into midsize cars rising from 8 to 11 per cent.

PIN data also shows that manufacturers are gradually leaving the segment: the number of midsize SUV models in the market peaked at 22 in 2003, 2004 and 2005, while only 16 models make up the segment in 2007.

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