No end to SUV craze
Four of every 10 new vehicles sold in the U.S. last year were SUVs — and automakers don’t see that trend reversing. “The American consumer has stampeded to trucks and they’re not coming back,” says Mike Jackson, the CEO of the AutoNation dealership group. SUV sales have been steadily rising since 2009, accelerated by low gas prices and a slew of new, compact models like the Jeep Renegade and the Chevrolet Trax. That’s been a boon for brands with SUV-heavy lineups, like Subaru and Jeep, but has hurt more car-focused brands like Toyota and Volkswagen. Fiat Chrysler plans to get out of the car business altogether and focus on expanding its SUV lineup. But Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn says that’s a mistake. “We will continue to do small cars for the U.S. because you never know when oil prices will go up or how the shifts will take place,” Ghosn said at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.