EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In East Grand Rapids’ Gaslight Village, you seem them parked at the curb waiting to haul kids, groceries or whatever the need: They are SUVs, crossovers, pickup trucks and the vehicle some suggest caused the beginning of the end for the passenger car: the minivan.
“Why not a passenger car? Because I have three kids and getting them in an out is really easy with sliding doors,” said Amber Cox, who drives a minivan.
“I think having a bigger car on the road, you feel safer than when you’re in a little tiny car knowing that there’s so many other big cars around you,” she added.
But she remembers when her mom loaded the kids in a big old Buick.
At one time, passenger cars were king of the road. Sedans with nameplates like Caprice, Catalina and Crown Victoria were mainstays of the industry.
Those days are quickly disappearing. Four-door sedans and other passenger cars continue to fade from showroom floors.
You can add three more once-popular Ford sedans to the list of nameplates destined for the auto museums. The company announced Wednesday that it cut most of its car lineup in North America. The Fiesta, Fusion and Tarsus could be gone as early as next year. The Focus subcompact will be replaced by a new crossover style called the Focus Active.
“It’s an evolution in this industry right now,” IHS automotive industry analyst Mike Wall said.
As recent as 2012, there was about a 50/50 split between passenger cars and light truck sales.
“Last year it was 64 percent light trucks. This year, we’re looking at 67 percent. We see it going up over 70 percent in the coming years,” Wall said.
“It actually matches up to our dealership an a lot in the areas of their product mix,” Keller Ford President Rob Keller said. “Eighty percent of our sales are F-series trucks, Explorers, crossovers, SUVs. Just a very small amount are the sedans.”
There is also talk of other automakers reducing sedan production in favor of light truck-style vehicles.
The wildcard in all this could be prices at the pump.
“There may be some risk there. Now, I say that and crossovers have improved noticeably on the fuel economy front, so it’s not the penalty that it used to be. But there is still some of that risk,” Wall said.
Ford is not getting out of the car business altogether. One vehicle that will remain in the blue oval lineup is the iconic Mustang.