The SUV mania is killing the sedan we once loved
Earlier this year we visited the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in the capacity of motoring journalists. That sounded like a mismatch to the immigration officer (amongst many others) who was interviewing us. But what is more surprising, is that CES had more forward-looking concept cars this year than the Detroit Motor Show that opened its doors the following week. Interestingly most of those concepts were based on SUV body styles. Every carmaker, big and small, is convinced that these high-riding automobiles are the future. Unsurprisingly, that trend is already showing its claws on every other body style out there - more importantly, the sedans.
The Byton electric SUV concept from the CES 2018
The hatchbacks still have their economical price tags working in their favour, but the sedans are losing out to the SUVs for more reasons than one - street presence, space, perceived go-anywhere capabilities, and touring ability. More importantly, the commanding view of the road appeals to most for it makes the driver feel like the ruler of the road by literally looking down upon every other car on the road. While the luxury sedans are still able to fend off the imminent SUV domination with their stately appeal, the smaller sedans are either slow moving or on their way out or even dead by the time you read this. You don't need Sherlock Holmes to tell you what is actioning a slow death of many car models out there. But we have put together a list anyway to put some light on the subject. Read on:
Toyota Corolla and Camry
The Toyota Corolla and the Camry are known to be two of the most comfortable sedans in the world, making them a popular choice amongst the fleet operators and the chauffeur-driven type. Both the cars got off to a great start in India too, but over the years the sales declined and we believe that it has a lot to do with their own stablemates. The Innova, which replaced the Qualis as a more stylish and upmarket alternative, seemed to have its adverse effect on the Corolla too.
Higher up the order, the Fortuner posed a threat for the Camry. The Fortuner became the symbol of wealth, but also of aggression and that afforded the Camry some breathing space given its understated appeal. It continues to score on the same merit in its latest avatar too, but the takers are very few for such elegance.
The Honda Accord
Like the Camry, its archival and compatriot - the Honda Accord - faced similar heat too. Apart from well-off families and expats, it was a favourite amongst the politicos and the land mafia too. But that clan's new found love in the mid-2000s was the Ford Endeavour (in black).
The Fortuner's entry opened more options for that audience and that further dampened the Accord's future plans. Today, the Accord has extremely limited takers and its only claim to fame is the hybrid drivetrain.
The Elantra has arguably been the best looker in the segment for two generations in a row, but the sales don't echo the compliments it gets from the onlookers. The reason for that probably lies in SUVs and crossovers like the Mahindra XUV500 and the Jeep Compass.
The Skoda Superb and the Volkswagen Passat
Both these siblings have boasted of the European engineering and build quality, and a more premium feel over the Japanese rivals. While that worked in their favour a few years back, today these cars have lost a lot of ground to the compact luxury crossovers like the Audi Q3 and BMW X1. The presence of the more practical Fortuner and Endeavour in the segment only made things worse.
LHD Skoda Superb shown for representation only
Volkswagen Passat R-Line shown for representation only
The Fluence was such a lovely car! Leaving aside the polarising exterior, the cabin had a pleasing vibe to it and despite a perceivably small 1.5l diesel engine, it was a surprisingly good highway cruiser and a frugal city slicker. It was priced rather well too, but the Duster that it shared showroom space with, was hard to ignore and cars like the XUV500 offered more bang for the similar buck. The Fluence died just as calmly as it arrived.
Can you think of more such examples? Let us know in the comments below.
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Team OD | 17 Nov 2018
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