Volkswagen Says Sedans Aren’t Dead, But Is That True?

15 April 2020 - autoevolution

Volkswagen Says Sedans Aren’t Dead, But Is That True?

"Who Says Sedans Are Dead?"

 That's the question that Volkswagen asks in the title of a rather unassuming press release, but the German automaker is not entirely correct in its effort to make the three-box body style great again. The truth of the matter is, not even hatchbacks enjoy the popularity they once had because of the increasing demand for crossovers, SUVs, and pickup trucks.

"But not every market is the same!" That's entirely right, dear reader, and this gets us to the United States. One in every five cars sold in 2012 was a mid-size sedan, now it's barely one in ten. Seven of the ten top-selling vehicles in 2019 were trucks and sport utility vehicles, and also worthy of note, passenger cars totaled 4.7 million sales or 10 percent less than in 2018.

Turning our attention to Europe, SUVs have a market share of 40-ish percent in this part of the world. And as expected, hatchbacks and sedans as well as wagons are the biggest losers in this particular situation. You can also add MPVs to that list because three-row crossovers are increasingly popular.

"Given these circumstances, why does Volkswagen insist that sedans aren't dead?" The German automaker explains that sedans account for almost one-third of all deliveries to Volkswagen customers worldwide, and VW gingerly mentions that 1.6 million units were sold in China last year. In other words, Wolfsburg implies that the glass of water is half full, not half empty.

Yes, China is big on sedans because that's what people like there. Yes, Volkswagen offers no fewer than six sedan models in the Middle Kingdom. Coincidence or not, none are available stateside or in the Old Continent. Having been to China a number of years ago, I can assure you that sedans – especially Volkswagen taxis – are big in the city and metro area of Shanghai.

If we can turn our attention back to Europe for a moment, care to guess how many sedan models Volkswagen sells there? Make that two, namely the Passat and Passat-based Arteon. The United States also has the Jetta, which was dropped from the European lineup because it didn't sell rather well.

On an ending note, is the sedan dead or not? Obviously enough, the answer depends on where you're living. In China, it's not. In the U.S., pretty dead.

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