Sales are dwindling, but that doesn't mean there isn't a winner.
It’s no secret that sedan sales are on the decline. Automakers are unveiling crossovers at an alarming rate, constantly inventing new niches, while they let their sedans stagnate, or worse yet, kill them off. Nonetheless, compact and midsize sedans still move in massive numbers- each segment reached over a million sales in 2018. The fullsize sedan market hasn’t held up as well, managing only 317,289 sales in 2018, according to carsalesbase.com. This represents an 18.9% drop from the previous year and just a shadow of the segment’s peak in 2006, when over a million fullsize sedans were sold. Yet while the segment is clearly struggling, 300,000 units is not an insignificant number, and this means at least someone must be succeeding. But who is it?
The answer shouldn't be huge surprise: Fiat-Chrysler managed to preserve a comfortable lead with the Dodge Charger, while its sister vehicle, the Chrysler 300, occupied third position. Selling 80,226 and 46,593 units respectively, both models saw a 9% decrease compared to 2017, but FCA should be pleased regardless, as both models are some of the oldest in the segment, having last received facelifts in 2015 and sit on a 20-year-old platform.
Coming in a distant second place was the Chevy Impala, plummeting 24% from 2017 to sell 57,571 units. Its corporate cousin, the Buick LaCrosse, also dropped over 20% to a mere 15,709 units. With such large year-over-year losses, it is no surprise that General Motors will end production of both cars in 2019.
GM’s fortunes may seem bad, but Nissan’s Maxima actually experienced the worst 2018, falling from third to fourth thanks to a 37% slide. The Maxima has been facelifted for 2019, which may help it to improve on its 42,337 sales in 2018.
Like the GM twins, the ancient Ford Taurus will cease production in the middle of the year, and the bulky sedan managed only 36,088 sales, a 12% decrease from last year. Toyota’s Avalon followed the Taurus in sixth place with 33,580 sales. The Avalon was the only fullsizer to post a increase, albeit a measly 3%, but perhaps the arrival of the sportier TRD model will boost sales even further. Rounding out the segment was the Kia Cadenza, which sold a paltry 4,507 cars in 2018, 38% fewer than 2017 when the second generation was introduced.
While FCA will likely stick by its successful fullsize models, Ford and GM are already abandoning the segment, and it will be interesting to see how the other remaining manufacturers act in the coming years as the segment continues to falter.