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We Can All Thank Gen Z Millennials For Killing Subcompact Cars

Industry News / 25 Comments

And their parents and grandparents.

Automakers such as Ford are acknowledging the fact that traditional cars, including sedans, are dying. The automatable itself is safe, but sedans of all sizes are losing sales to crossover SUVs. But who among these buyers are mainly responsible for the death of sedans? That would be Gen Z millennials, those born after 1995. Ford has issued an interesting press release that breaks down some sales figures and, sure enough, young people want crossovers. And so do their parents and grandparents.

Gen Z currently makes up more than one-quarter of the US population, so naturally the marketplace must cater to their wishes. Almost one-third of these young people can now drive and their buying habits on the auto industry are already being felt. A KBB/Autotrader study found that 92 percent of Gen Z millennials surveyed own or plan to own a car – and one that needs to be affordable. It also has to have connectivity features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Ever so conveniently, Ford has just launched its new EcoSport (check out our full review here), a subcompact crossover designed specifically with Gen Z in mind.

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The EcoSport essentially replaces the Fiesta in the US, and the numbers prove why Ford decided to kill the latter: projections indicates US sales of subcompact SUVs among 18- to 24-year olds will surpass those of subcompact cars by as early as next year. Only four years ago, this same age demographic bought 8,121 subcompact cars and only 443 subcompact SUVs. By 2017, these figures were very different: 3,981 subcompact cars and 2,840 subcompact SUVs – a 541 percent spike in favor of the latter. By 2019, subcompact crossovers are expected to outsell small cars. Of course, it's not only subcompact SUVs that are selling in droves, but SUVs of all sizes.

Automakers like Ford figure if they can get young people to buy small SUVs today, they'll stick with the brand for their next, and presumably larger, SUV purchase. That's just basic business. So why do consumers of all ages prefer crossovers over traditional cars? Higher seating positions, more interior and cargo space, and exterior styling considered to be trendier.