The Nissan Altima's marketing manager argues that crossovers could suffer the same fate as minivans in future generations.
It's no secret that sedan sales are slumping while crossover sales are rising. But while some automakers like Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are pulling out of the segment altogether, Nissan has high expectations for the all-new Altima sedan, which is arriving in US showrooms next month. Speaking with The Detroit Bureau, the Altima's marketing manager Bruce Pillard revealed the new version of the midsize sedan marks "one of the highest investments in the history of Nissan."
This includes an entirely new platform, the first-ever all-wheel-drive system for the Altima, and the brand's first use of the VC-Turbo engine. By contrast, Ford is axing the Fusion midsize sedan along with every other passenger car from its current lineup apart from the Mustang. With some of the world's largest automakers pulling out of the segment, the future looks bleak for the sedan, but Pillard remains optimistic. "The future is bright," he said, adding that "the market is still here and still relevant in terms of volume."
According to IHS data, sales of four-door models in America including subcompacts and full-size have declined by 25 percent in the first seven months of this year, when midsize sedans used to make up around a third of car sales in America. Despite the sharp decline, Pillard thinks sedans could make a comeback in the future. "We think younger generations will buy more sedans than older generations," he said. He also noted that younger buyers "don't want to drive daddy's car," which tend to be crossovers right now.
Crossover sales are unlikely to fall any time soon, but it's possible that future generations could lose interest when you look back at previous market trends. The publication notes that baby boomers that grew up when station wagons were popular ended up buying minivans when they were older. Minivan sales have now plummeted in favor of crossovers. It's possible that sedans could make a comeback, but they don't have the practicality buyers of station wagons, minivans and crossovers are looking for.
Nissan is hoping the new Altima's styling, tech and performance will give it the edge over the competition. It's also the first Nissan sedan to offer all-wheel drive, which is a common feature on crossovers. Plus, Ford exiting the sedan segment could give Nissan an advantage. "I don't want to comment (about Ford's strategy) but if some Fusion owners want to buy an Altima I would have no problem with that," Pillard added. The all-new Altima isn't the only new sedan Nissan has in the pipeline either, as the automaker will reveal a redesigned flagship Maxima at next year's Detroit Auto Show in January.