Sales of Mid-sized cars in the United States fell by 16 percent in the third quarter of 2016, as the freefall of sales in the segment accelerates. Midsized cars used to be the segment where the money was made, even when SUVs and crossovers started to gain a foothold in the US car market during the 1990s and early 2000s. But that boom has started to pick up speed this year, fueled by hot new models and affordable gas. In contrast there haven’t been many major model updates in the midsized segment lately. As a result, compact crossover are expected to become the biggest segment this year, with even the full-sized pickup truck and the compact car segments closing in on midsized cars in recent months and even threatening to push the segment to fourth place. Until the segment gets an injection of fresh product, for example from the next generation Toyota Camry next year, there will be little that can turn this fate around. Out of the 14 midsized models, only 3 improved their sales in Q3, with 9 models showing double digit losses.
Highlights for January – September 2016:
- The Honda Accord has reclaimed the year-to-date #2 spot from the Nissan Altima in the third quarter, despite losing 18% of its volume in Q3, compared to -23% for the Altima and -12% for the segment leader Camry.
- The Ford Fusion lost 19% in Q3, but keeps comfortably ahead of the new generation Chevrolet Malibu, which already lost steam with a 1% loss in Q3, although it’s still up 16% year-to-date. It doesn’t help the model that GM is logically prioritizing profit over market share and therefore cutting down on sales to daily rental fleets.
- The Malibu manages to stay ahead of the Hyundai Sonata in the YTD ranking, as the latter is down 18% in the third quarter but still outsold the Chevy by 800 units. The Sonata drops into negative territory for the nine month period.
- Big winner of the segment in Q3 is the Subaru Outback with a 32% increase, which puts it within 1.000 sales of the Malibu and 1.800 sales of the Sonata for the quarter. Its sister model Legacy is also up: 13% in Q3.
- The redesign of the Kia Optima can be called a failure, with the model losing 26% in Q3 on the outgoing model last year.
- The VW Passat is starting to stabilize at -6% vs -17% year-to-date. The Passat even comfortably outsold the Chrysler 200 in Q3, as production of the 200 is scheduled to end in December, with no reports of a possible successor yet.
- Even the Mazda6 outsold the 200 in the third quarter, despite a 16% loss of volume. Somehow the model appears destined to remain in the bottom-end of the ranking, no matter how good it may be.
Note: clicking on the model name opens the sales data page for that model; clicking year in the legend turns the display for that year on/off