SUVs are NOT Dead
- January 16, 2007
- Automobile Cool News, Buick, Chevrolet, Ford, More Categories...
- Posted by George Peterson
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SUVs are NOT DEAD – Sport Utility Vehicles Remain Top Considered Vehicle Segment
For as long as I can remember, the New York Times and eastern media have been taking SUVs to task. While many of the people writing these stories don’t own a vehicle or even drive a car or truck, they have decided that the Sport Utility Vehicle is the poster child for social irresponsibility. No matter what they say, folks continue to gravitate to SUVs. We have the data.
For the past thirteen years, Sport Utility Vehicles have been the product segment that is most considered by American driving public. 2006 was a traumatic year for SUVs. High fuel prices dampened demand for large truck-based SUVs, but in 2006 as for more than a decade, demand for SUVs was highest among AutoPacific’s seven macro product segments. When consideration for contemporary SUVs – Crossover Sport Utility Vehicles or XSUVs – is included, consideration goes even higher.
Clearly America’s love affair for this Swiss Army Knife of vehicles has not waned, nor has demand by Americans for a vehicle type that can do many different things. We used to say that people bought SUVs because they can go anywhere, go anytime, go with anything, go with anybody… an SUV could do it all. Meeting these criteria – especially the go anywhere aspect of the equation yielded SUVs that were too capable. They could go off-road over rough terrain through tough climate conditions. Even though most buyers never used them for what they were capable of, they were designed to have off-road credibility.
Let it be XSUV: Let’s officially coin our term for Crossover SUVs. These are not simply “crossovers”, after all, you could have a crossover of almost any two products. We don’t want to call them CUVs – Crossover Utility Vehicles – because that dilutes what they really are supposed to be. The right term is Crossover SUV. This clearly defines that this is an SUV based on a car platform – something not quite as capable as body-on-frame traditional SUVs. So, for now on, it’s XSUVs.
Carmakers Responded to Buyers with Crossover SUVs: By the end of the ‘90s, manufacturers began to respond to buyers’ demand for slightly softer product characteristics. For awhile terms like “soft-roaders”, “cute-utes” were used to describe vehicles like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and even the Lexus RX300. Inside the car companies engineers and designers were referring to these types of vehicles as Crossovers. And while the buyer rarely refers to his Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox, or Honda Pilot as a Crossover SUV, that is what they are. They are not designed for off-roading, but they are designed to provide comfortable, maneuverable, efficient transportation in the suburbs and on vacation.
VehicleVoice internet survey panel members and respondents to AutoPacific’s annual Future Vehicle Survey have responded about what type of transportation they will consider next time they buy. Selected details are below the fold.
The results of AutoPacific’s 2006 Future Segment Consideration Study show the strength of SUVs not only today but continuing into the future.
Half of Vehicle Buyers Will Consider an SUV: Over 50% (51%) of all buyers will consider an SUV or XSUV next time they buy. This purchase may be to replace their present vehicle or another in their familiy fleet. Their next purchase may even be an addition to the family fleet. Three segments are tightly grouped behind XUVs/XSUVs in consideration: Pickup Trucks (38%), Luxury Cars (36%), Mid-Size Cars (36%). Sports/Sporty Cars will be considered by 20% with Compact Cars and Minivans each considered by 10%. These results add to more than 100% because respondents to AutoPacific’s research could select more than one segment they would consider in the future.
For Boomers and Younger, SUVs/XSUVs are Top Considered Segment. About 65% of the under 30 years of age group will consider an SUV/XSUV. This increases to 69% among thirty year olds before dropping to 58% for folks in their 40s, 50% for those in their 50s and 34% for those 65 years of age or more. For the oldest age category, Luxury Cars are the vehicle of choice. For every age category except for the very oldest, SUV/XSUVs are the top ranked category.
Women Most Strongly Consider SUVs: Not surprisingly SUVs and Crossover SUVs are most strongly considered by WOMEN! SUVs are clearly the day-to-day workhorse of the suburban set.
SUV/XSUV Consideration Consistent Across the Country: SUV consideration is constant across every major geographic region of the United States. It is truly an American icon. Unlike other vehicle types, such as Pickup Trucks that have highest consideration in the Mountain States and lowest in the Northeast, about half of the buyers in each region from coast-to-coast and border-to-border will consider an SUV next time they buy. Luxury Cars, by the way, are most strongly considered in California.