I’m not trying to pick on Nissan, but here’s something interesting: In July, 2010, sales of the very large Nissan Armada SUV above were up 311.4%. Sales of the Xterra SUV were up 56.6%. On the flip side, sales of the subcompact Nissan Cube were down 54%. Sales of the equally subcompact Nissan Versa were down 9.4%. This isn’t meant to bash SUVs—I’m not an SUV hater—it’s meant to show that in July, 2010, sales of large vehicles were up, and sales of small cars were down, and not just at Nissan.
It’s been said Americans have short memories. This could certainly be said for car buying trends, at least with regards to vehicle size and fuel efficacy. Gas prices have held relatively steady over the last year—the average price is still under $3.00 a gallon, although on the rise—and Americans have decided to buy larger, thirstier cars again. At least that’s what July’s sales data suggest.
July was a good month for the majority of automakers offering vehicles in the States. However, it was the bigger vehicles leading the charge, even though there’s more small cars on the market than in recent history. Autoblog, for example, reported Honda’s Civic was down 25.5% while the Pilot was up 45.4% (the Fit was down 29.5%). Nissan’s car division was down 3.7%, but its trucks went up 51%. As I reported on Tuesday, all b-segment cars on the U.S. market (sans the Kia Rio and Kia Soul; +99.7% and +65.9%, respectively) experienced a drop in sales compared to this time in 2009.
It’s not like Americans don’t have small options these days, it’s quite the contrary. There are more small car choices these days than since the 1980s, and they’re almost undoubtedly the best small cars ever to grace American soil. Even with the not-so-stellar economy, gas prices that still aren’t “cheap,” and many great smaller options, the slow sales of small cars says something about U.S. consumers: They like big vehicles and fuel economy isn’t as important as many want to think.
How soon people forget. Remember when gas prices approached $5.00 a gallon in places? It wasn’t very long ago. Remember saving money by driving a car that got 25 MPG vs. 15? Of course a subcompact, compact, or even a “car” doesn’t fit everyone’s bill. But, they likely fit more lifestyles then many people would want to believe. It’s the “bigger is better” mentality.
Hey, I’m the last person on Earth that’s going to tell someone what they have to buy. Some people need pickups, SUVs, and minivans (most “minivans” aren’t very “mini” anymore if you haven’t noticed), and you do have the freedom to buy whatever the hell you want—that’s fine. But I’d bet gas prices will rise again and used car lots will once again be strewn with copious amounts of large, gas-guzzling vehicles. I just figure it’s a matter of if not when.
Clearly, Americans decided to buy big with their vehicle purchases—at least in July—despite the influx of great small vehicles. But is this spike in bigger vehicle sales simply a blip on the radar, or is this a return to buying bigger and less fuel-efficient again? Assuming gas prices stay around where they are, the next few months should be good indicators.
Courtesy of our content partner – Subcompact Culture