Crossovers, trucks edging out cars in battle of body styles

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Posted: Monday, March 31, 2014 12:00 am

Trucks continue to outsell cars.

So far this year, cars account for 47.4 percent of U.S. sales, according to data from WardsAuto. Analyst Haig Stoddard forecasts light trucks will outsell cars for the foreseeable future.

But, since cars tend to be the most affordable body style and get the best gas mileage, “we’re always one gas shock away from people moving back to cars,” said Erich Merkle, U.S. sales analyst for Ford.

When gas prices were high, small car sales seemed unstoppable and accounted for almost 20 percent of the market in 2012. They fell to 19 percent last year and will dip another tenth of a percentage point this year, Stoddard forecasts..

All automakers continue to introduce new crossovers, especially small ones. The number of nameplates has grown from 180 in 2000 to 370 today.

In the U.S., crossovers are at record market share of 25.5 percent and forecast to end the year with 27 percent of total light- duty vehicle sales, Stoddard said. Add traditional SUVs and these vehicles account for more than a third of U.S. sales.

Conversely, pickup sales have been on the decline this year and represent less than 12 percent of the industry, down from about 12.3 percent at this time last year, Merkle said.

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