One purpose why this put up was printed Wednesday as an alternative of earlier within the week is that I used to be at a Chicago-area occasion the place Honda PR was presenting the all-new Accord to native media.
This explicit presentation was uncommon in that Honda centered much less on the brand new automotive’s specs and options and extra on a serious query that’s hovering over the midsize-sedan class – particularly, will the section even exist in a couple of years? Or will crossovers (CUVs) have totally taken over by then?
It’s an essential query for Honda (and any automaker, actually), and it’s apparent that reporters are asking why Honda would spend assets on redesigning a midsize sedan when the crossover market is so rattling sizzling.
Honda, after all, pushed again by reminding assembled media that we’re speaking Accord right here, and it’s one of many best-selling vehicles of all-time, some of the well-known nameplates, a bread-and-butter automotive for the model, some of the closely awarded vehicles of all time, et cetera. So why wouldn’t the model stick with a automotive that does such quantity, even when the remainder of the section is seeing a decline?
The corporate has some extent – it by no means occurred to me that Honda would surrender on Accord (or Toyota surrender on Camry) regardless of the shift in market developments. These two fashions are simply too rattling fashionable.
It was a special level of pushback that caught my ear. The corporate spokesman giving the presentation politely steered that journalists are shopping for into the midsize deathwatch narrative slightly too simply, as a result of it’s simple to see a close to 20-percent decline and say, “Effectively that’s it, the pattern will proceed and the section will die.” By no means thoughts that the pattern may cease and even reverse in future years.
What’s attention-grabbing is what vehicles have left the midsize section previously couple of years – or are about to. It’s a small quantity. Mitsubishi now not has an providing there as a result of the corporate is barely alive within the North American market. Volkswagen is planning the CC’s dying, however a alternative is on the best way. And whereas specializing in vehicles and SUVs was a part of the reasoning behind FCA’s option to kill the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger, it’s just one purpose why these two vehicles are lifeless and shortly to be lifeless.
These two fashions had been killed partly as a result of they did not compete at a excessive sufficient degree to justify funding, and FCA felt it higher to focus within the quick time period on constructing fashions that promote. The corporate’s struggles dictated this – FCA merely needed to focus its efforts on its best-sellers in methods different OEMs haven’t needed to. The 200 additionally lacked rear headroom – a deadly flaw on this class – and it’s doable Sergio Marchionne needed to pare the lineup down in an effort to merge with one other automaker.
Automakers aren’t but fleeing the midsize section, then. Each the Camry and Accord are totally redesigned for this yr and Nissan’s Altima is predicted to comply with swimsuit in brief order. Different autos within the section have been not too long ago refreshed.
But nearly each journalist, pundit and analyst has predicted the dying of the midsize sedan (we haven’t, precisely. As we state in our Midsize Sedan Deathwatch items: “The midsize sedan as we all know it — “midsizedus sedanicus” within the unique Latin — isn’t going wherever any time quickly, however the ongoing gross sales contraction will lead to a discount of mainstream intermediate sedans within the U.S. market. How do we all know? It already has.”)
Nonetheless, I believe it’s essential to notice that “decline” doesn’t equal “dying.”
What I imply by that’s whereas the section is prone to see fewer gross sales until client tastes shift again (control gasoline costs, and sure, I do know crossovers are rather more fuel-efficient than earlier than), and whereas a mannequin or two could disappear, the section isn’t prone to.
What’s extra doubtless, for my part, is that midsize section will merely now not be the dominant class.
It’s human nature to overreact to developments. Take into consideration the ageing athlete who has a foul yr and is assumed to be too outdated to be any good anymore. Generally, that’s the case, however typically it’s simply an off yr and her or she bounces proper again the following season. Different instances she or he is now not dominant however nonetheless can carry out at a excessive degree. Both means, a decline doesn’t at all times signify the top.
That’s what I believe will occur to the midsize section. The rumors of its dying have been exaggerated.
Nonetheless, there’s concern exterior of what we known as the “massive three” – Accord, Camry and Nissan Altima. As Tim famous earlier than, the non-big-three midsizers are struggling.
Whereas I received’t be saying prayers for the Malibu or Fusion anytime quickly, that information may very well be worrisome for Subaru Legacy and Mazda6 followers. The excellent news is that the Legacy was simply refreshed, and because it shares structure with the Outback, it’s doubtless secure for now.
As for the 6, Mazda already instructed us they’d no intent, for now, of killing it. However as Tim famous in that piece, it’s not nearly gross sales numbers however about revenue. However, the 6’s driving dynamics stay as much as Mazda’s chosen “zoom zoom” identification, and the corporate may maintain the 6 round only for that purpose, even when the revenue equation isn’t so favorable.
It’s clear that for Honda, Toyota and Nissan, the whole lot remains to be comparatively rosy within the midsize section. However with 35 % fewer nameplates within the class than there have been a decade in the past, and with nearly 20 % of CUV conquests coming from the midsize class, issues do look slightly dire.
Dire doesn’t imply lifeless, although. The midsize section isn’t going wherever, neither is the Accord. Alter expectations accordingly, however don’t begin the funeral dirge simply but.