So is it really the end of the American car on its home turf?
From the way Detroit’s major executives are talking, it would seem so.
Ford said Wednesday it will only offer two new cars in North America over the coming years — its iconic Mustang and the Focus Active, a rugged-looking hatchback that has already debuted in Europe, and somewhat resembles the Subaru Crosstrek or the Buick Regal TourX.
GM is moving along the same lines.
“I think we have been on this path for a number of years,” GM CFO Chuck Stevens said on a call with reporters on Thursday, after the largest U.S. automaker released first-quarter earnings.
Many of Fiat-Chrysler’s biggest successes have been SUVs in recent years, evidenced by the growth of its Jeep brand.
“Virtually eliminating Ford’s NA car portfolio makes a lot of sense, in our view,” said Adam Jonas, an analyst at Morgan Stanley. “No more Fusion. No more Focus. No more Fiesta. No more Taurus.”
GM still makes quite a few cars. For now, Chevrolet alone still sells somewhere around 12 car models if you count Corvette, although there have been rumors and news it will cut or end production of at least some of those. Buick has some sedans and a crossover that looks a lot like a wagon, and Cadillac has so many sedans industry observers and dealers say it missed the crossover trend.
And despite the fact that American companies are reshaping their lineups, sedans will still form a substantial portion of the vehicles sold in the U.S. for the foreseeable future.
“Although passenger car segments have declined over the last number of years, they are still very important,” GM’s Stevens said Thursday. “Small cars are important internationally, and they still make up a chunk of sales in the United States.”
But crossover sales were largely what drove GM’s earnings beat on Thursday, and the automaker’s income was down because it had spent a lot of time retooling its factories — to build more trucks. Buick’s best-selling model is the subcompact Encore crossover, and Cadillac’s biggest debut this year has been the XT4, a model the company is making to finally catch up with rivals already in the luxury crossover segment.