It’s no surprise that trucks and crossovers are selling well, but despite the shift away from sedans, Chevy’s mid-sizer is surging.
The swing is predictable; buyers gravitate to sedans when oil gets pricey, and then they gravitate to trucks and SUVs when pump prices are cheap, like they are now.
So with gas currently being cheap – today it’s $2.373, according to AAA Gas Prices – bigger vehicles are on the march.
And so we’re experiencing the other side of that coin; Automotive News recently quoted a Barclays Capital analyst who says we’re in a “sedan recession”, even as the market looks to be breaking last year’s sales records.
This swing is a frustrating one for manufacturers, as the product planning and investment that went into their sedans is now appearing more difficult to amortize.
In the case of Hyundai, the quick shift to crossovers hobbled the company’s ability to produce enough Tucsons and Santa Fes to keep up, as production capacity had been allocated to Elantras and Sonatas, which were more popular as the economy recovered from the financial crash of the late ’00s.
Hyundai corrected that by opening a third production facility for the Tucson in particular, and Tucson sales have almost doubled over last year.
Amid this shifting landscape, the Chevrolet Malibu is an interesting standout in the sedan recession: Automotive News notes that it joins the Honda Civic as being one of the two from the top 14 car nameplates that has posted a gain over May 2015.
It appears that the Malibu has been able to buck the diminished sedan interest, and what’s better is that the Malibu finally seems to be shedding its rental-car reputation, as it had sold more to retail buyers than in any year since 1981. That’s when the Malibu looked like this:
It not a small thing that the Malibu is attracting a market beyond its rental-appliance role, and huzzah to Chevy if it means that the bitter taste of abject cheapness modeled by the 2004 Malibu has been erased. Note that all Chevy can say about it is that it was redesigned on a new platform.
Compared to the 2004 and its Rubbermaid-like interior, the 2016 Malibu is vastly improved in apparent quality, and it’s nice that buyers are recognizing that.
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