DETROIT (WOOD) — For a couple of weeks every January, the Cobo Center in Detroit becomes the biggest showroom in the world as it hosts the North American International Auto Show. It’s a good barometer for what you’ll see in your local showroom.
“The theme of this show is all about trucks,” IHS automotive industry analyst Mike Wall told 24 Hour News 8 Monday. “We’ve got trucks, crossovers, and really, it’s indicative of where we’ve seen sales trending.”
In 2017, automakers sold 6.3 million passenger cars, down from 7.1 million the year before. Light truck sales accounted for nearly 11 million in sales, up from just under 10.5 million in 2016. The segment leading the charge: pickups.
Ram, a Fiat Chrysler brand, introduced its newly redesigned 1500 models Monday morning at the auto show. Chevrolet is also showing off a makeover of its full-size truck. Ford is jumping back into the midsize pickup market with the reintroduction of its once-popular Ranger, a model it dropped in 2011.
Buyers who would have looked past pickups at dealerships in the past are now driving them off the lots. The change has to do with better rides and improved gas mileage, among other refinements. Ram’s new 1500 is an example: the company promises a quiet cabin and the truck has a massive 12-inch touchscreen.
“(With) leather and infotainment, (customers are) taking another look at them,” Wall said.
SEDANS TAKE THE BACK SEAT
So what does the success of trucks means for staple sedans like the Ford Taurus and Toyota Camry?
“How many of us remember the days of 400,000 Tauruses being sold a year, the highest-selling vehicle in a given year?” Wall said. “We are seeing that evolve. We are seeing that go away to an extent.”
But Wall says no one’s about to pull the plug on sedans.
“I wouldn’t call it the death because you look at the Camrys, the (Honda) Accords, the (Honda) Civics — they are doing quite well,” he said.
Wall says there’s a segment of the market that sill wants the classic four-door, and that means there’s still money to be made in building them — just on a smaller scale.
“You can create a profitable business based on 200, 300 thousand units a year,” Wall said.
The auto show opens to the public Saturday.