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Did 2016 kill the sedan?

While still the best-selling sedan in U.S., Toyota Camry sales dropped 10% in 2016.
While still the best-selling sedan in U.S., Toyota Camry sales dropped 10% in 2016.

In 2015, for the first time ever, compact SUVs outsold sedans in the U.S.

Consumers continued to ditch sedans for SUVs this year. For example, while still the best-selling sedan in the U.S., sales of the Toyota Camry dropped ten percent in 2016. 

Sales of other formerly popular sedans plummeted even further. 

Michelle Krebs of Autotrader says gas prices remain low, and SUVs are a lot more fuel efficient than they used to be.

"I think that's one of reasons that consumers find them so attractive," says Krebs. "There isn't a huge fuel economy penalty. Yet they get a whole lot more in practicality and versatility. That is a trend we expect to continue."

The decline in sales of small cars is reflected in GM's recent decision to lay off more than 3,000 workers, all in factories that make sedans.

For total car sales this year, Krebs expects them to be very close to the record. That was nearly 17.5 million sold in 2015. 

"I will say, though, that we are seeing sales plateau," says Krebs. "It's taking a lot more effort and resources in the way of incentives to reach that level. But it's still a hefty number of vehicles that we sold in 2016."



Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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