If you think back to 2007, the last of the so-called boom years before the big crash, the automotive market was ripe with sales of luxurious vehicles, mammoth SUVs and full-size trucks. Small, economical cars had yet to make a big splash in the market and fuel efficiency was not the phrase of the day. But the economy erupted in turmoil and gas prices shot through the roof in 2008, and the automotive market forever changed.
Buyers quickly began gulping up smaller, less expensive rides and fuel efficiency became one of the most marketed features of new cars. In addition, buyers slowed down their purchasing and kept hold of their existing vehicles for far longer. Even the wealthy amongst us gave up some niceties in exchange for a more economically-sound vehicular choice. Or, as Ernie Sims, executive vice president of a Florida Toyota dealership put it, "We've got people trading in Lexuses for Camrys."
The changeover was abrupt and long lasting. The numbers now show that car sales have surpassed trucks by taking 53.4 percent of the market. Compare that number to 49.2 percent back in 2007. While those numbers show a shift, a more dramatic change is evident when grouping car-based crossovers and minivans in with cars instead of trucks. Do this, and car-based vehicles now account for 77.2 percent of the market, up from 68.9 percent in 2007.
Even though buyers have shifted towards less expensive models, transaction prices are on the rise. As George Pipas, chief sales analyst for Ford told Automotive News:
When consumers downsize, they don't leave behind the options, content and features they had. Now our Fiesta, Focus and Fusion have options like Sync that weren't available on smaller vehicles three years ago.