Crossovers Are All the Rage

"One clear message from April U.S. automotive sales numbers: cars that aren't cars are moving off lots a lot faster than cars that are," Marketing:Automotive reports. "Back in the 1990s, SUVs were actually trucks with a different hat: they were a 2‑box setup on a pickup-​truck ladder frame. Today, SUV pretty much means crossover, a unibody vehicle that is basically a car."

"Which means today‰Ûªs SUV is more fuel efficient," Karl Greenberg writes in It's the Year of the Crossover. "Make that way, way more fuel-​efficient, thanks to new materials, new engine configurations, and new powertrain technology. The old Explorer of, say, 1999, has more in common with a bread truck than it does with the current Explorer."

"If this is the year of the crossover, and especially the compact crossover, the incredible shrinking minivan market will pay the price. With gasoline prices a lot lower, automakers' redoubling efforts to turn crossovers into omni-​lifestyle vehicles, including by bringing more 3‑row vehicles into our midst, millennials with kids have too many options to get stuck in a car their mom drove."

Increased crossover sales in April helped trucks account for 54% of total U.S. industry sales, making April the 20th straight month that trucks outsold cars.

"The big winner this year will probably be compact crossovers, for reasons obvious to anyone with 5 seconds to look at demographics: boomers are empty-​nesters now, and urban boomers want their vehicles like their buildings: a small footprint, but with a lot of space and flexibility upstairs; Gen Y, the other boom generation, is just starting families, and they want the same thing," Greenberg says. And all of that demand is being fueled by crossovers.

"TrueCar, Inc. predicts that, this year, compact utility vehicles will, for the first time, be the biggest vehicle segment in sales volume. The firm says the segment reached 15.6% of total U.S. auto sales in the first quarter, grabbing the crown from compact cars, which accounted for 15.1%, and midsize cars at 14.7%. The company also says compact utilities' market share has grown by 12.4 percentage points since 2000, when compact SUVs were 3.2% of deliveries."

TrueCar said something interesting: With fuel prices down, and compact crossover capacity way up, the segment has also seen double-​digit discount growth over the past 12 months. Says TrueCar's report, ‰ÛÏWhen gasoline experiences a notable price drop, compact utility incentives rise. Since the segment is a large revenue generator with strong margins, automakers prioritize retail incentives over fleet sales to drive volume.‰Û Whether those incentives stick around is another question entirely. Buy now."

Prepare your crossover dealers now for marketing to the 2.2% of consumers who are considering buying crossovers for their next vehicles, according to AudienceSCAN. 58% of them are women and 22% are hauling around children who are younger than 5. This crowd also likes to camp and hike (41%). They are 39% more likely than average to respond to ads that are mailed to them and just as likely to take action from ads they see on social networks, so work these types of campaigns into your dealers' budgets.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.