New vehicle registrations grew 7.2% in 2013 and here are some of the important automotive industry trends that “drove” growth, which makes them important trends for 2014. Over 15.2 million vehicles were registered in 2013 so let’s jump into the registration records and examine the hot trends shaping the automotive industry.
Electric and hybrid vehicles provide a spark for auto sales
It’s no secret, it seems like everyone’s talking about Tesla. Registrations for electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids that run on both gas and electric power, are way up. In 2013, registration records of hybrid vehicles including the Toyota Prius, Ford C-Max Hybrid or Fusion Hybrid, or Lexus CT200h, grew nearly 19%. Total combined registrations of EVs including cars like the Fiat 500e, Ford Ford C-Max Energi, Toyota Rav4 EV, Chevy Spark, Infiniti M35h, Nissan Leaf and of course the Tesla Model S, more than doubled in sales in 2013. There’s no sign that hybrids and EVs are slowing down for 2014 so this trend will continue to shape the automotive industry this year.
Hybrids and EVs combined for only 3.6% of total vehicle registrations in 2013.
One engine platform that lost ground in 2013: flex fuel vehicles, where sales were actually below the prior year. These vehicles are a significant portion of all registered vehicles, presenting more than one out of every five vehicles on the road. Vehicles with more conventional diesel and gasoline engines mostly held their own and the sales pace was even with overall growth.
Leasing drives 2014 trends in automobile ownership
Vehicle leasing is attractive again and is significantly up coming into 2014. While overall vehicle registrations were up just over 7% in 2013, leasing was up much more: consumers put their signature on 25% more leases in 2013 than the prior year.
Total market share of consumer registrations of purchased vehicles actually shrank in 2013 although purchased vehicles still outnumber leased vehicles more than three to one.
Businesses got into the act, too, and vehicles leased by businesses slightly outpaced total registration records.
Remember high gas prices not too long ago and how news stories talked about pickup truck sales dropping? Well, those gas guzzling light trucks are back. Pickup registrations and sport utility vehicle (SUV) registrations were nearly double the overall registration 7% growth rate. Sedans saw their total market share drop a bit, and coupes and convertibles had fewer registrations in 2013 than 2012. Coming along for the ride, registrations of vehicles with V8 engines were up nearly 10% over the previous year.
It’s worth noting, too, that registrations of recreational vehicles (RVs) were also up significantly, nearly 30% over the previous year.
Vehicles with 4-cylinder engines are also strong, especially compact CUVs
Consumers wanting to save on gas are driving the sales of cars with smaller 4 cylinder engines. Registrations of these vehicles with 4 cylinder engines grew at 12% in 2013. The once-popular 6 cylinder engine including V6 and inline 6 engines, actually had fewer registrations in 2013. Consumers are either going big or going small.
Compact cars have slowed down in volume in the last half of 2013 and compact CUVs are hot coming into 2014. Compact CUVs with 4-cylinder engines like the Toyota Rav-4 or Honda CR-V are outselling compact cars.
Hot or not? A look at registration records by make
Hot: Major makes (around 150,000 annual units and up) that showed considerable growth in 2013 include Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Dodge and Ram (both makes combined), Ford, Lexus, Nissan and Subaru.
Room temperature: Two major makes that had more units registered in 2013, just not at the 7% overall growth rate: Chevrolet and Mazda.
Not hot–in fact, cold: Major makes of cars and trucks that had fewer registered vehicles in 2013 than the previous year: Dodge (excluding Ram), Kia, Mini, Volkswagen and Volvo.
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