Even as Ford Motor Company abandons “traditional sedans” in the North American market to free up resources for trucks and utility vehicles, the automaker, along with the other members of Detroit’s “Big Three”, is struggling to hold onto crossover market share. According to Bloomberg, Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are all losing ground in the all-important North American CUV segment to overseas automakers, even as utility vehicle sales soar across much of the world.
According to one independent Michigan auto analyst, Alan Baum, Detroit’s Big Three will be responsible for just 35 percent of the crossovers in North America by 2023, down from 61 percent in 2005. That’s a smaller decline than in the car market, where the three automakers will produce an estimated 16 percent of North American volume by 2023 – vs. 53 percent in 2005. Still, that Ford, GM, and FCA are ceding crossover market share to foreign brands after playing such a pivotal role in the birth of the segment and investing so much into it is surprising.
“The Asians and the Europeans are taking over crossovers in the U.S. by adding new models and more manufacturing capacity,” Baum says. “They did the same thing in cars 10 or 20 years ago. In Detroit, this puts even more pressure on trucks.”
In other words, big, body-on-frame pickup trucks like the Ford F-Series, along with SUVs like the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, must do more of the heavy lifting in propping up Ford’s sales. That’s not always a bad thing; such vehicles tend to have much higher profit margins than their unibody counterparts, and try as they might, foreign automakers haven’t had much luck in challenging the Big Three’s formidable truck models.
But as Bloomberg highlights, that model becomes a liability just as soon as there’s a market downturn or the price of fuel ticks up. With oil prices now roughly 65 percent greater than they were in June of last year, and the United States’ relationship with Iran on the rocks, it would be fair to say that the Big Three’s market share losses in the crossover space could come back to bite them.