We may be heading towards a sad future for sports car sales.
In case you haven't noticed, SUVs are quickly becoming the best selling and most competitive segment in the automotive market. Many manufacturers are even starting to place more focus on SUVs than cars. Just look at Porsche, which was once the manufacturer of sports cars only. Now, Porsche sells more Macans and Cayennes than anything else and other manufacturers are catching on. The Detroit Bureau interviewed executives from several automakers to discuss this SUV trend.
Companies that only produce sports cars are finding that building an SUV is essential for survival. Aston Martin's chief marketing officer, Simon Sproule, says that super-premium SUVs will be "going to be the hottest segment in the luxury market" and that "As with the mainstream market, that’s what people want to drive." That is why Aston Martin is hard at work developing the DBX SUV, which could account for more than 50% of the company's yearly sales. Bentley has already unveiled the Bentayga, and Maserati has also just launched its first SUV ever, the Levante. According to the Levante's product manager Enrico Billi, "These days, if you ask buyers, more and more associate luxury with functionality."
Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali told Reuters that "[Lamborghini] will push like hell" to sell 3,500 units of its Urus SUV. Meanwhile, the company has set a cap on its sports car sales to 3,500 units. Even Rolls-Royce is developing what it calls a "sport-activity vehicle," a term that it shares with BMW. Only Ferrari seems to be resisting the urge to build an SUV. Still, David Sullivan, a senior automotive analyst with consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc. says that demand from China may all but force super-luxury car makers to build SUVs, saying that "even if the mainstream market cools there, there’s still going to be huge demand for high-end SUVs."
This news may sound pretty terrible if you are the kind of person who thinks that the Cayenne is an abomination and Porsche should only build one model, the 911. However, enthusiasts may not need to worry so much about the SUV trend. As we have seen from Porsche, building an SUV has helped the company stay in business and thrive. As long as companies like Aston Martin and Lamborghini are still able to build sports cars, who cares if they also have SUVs? Chances are you can't afford one anyway. So long as there are wealthy people in the world who want their sports car and their SUV to come from the same brand, sports car companies can stay in business and keep building the models we love.