U.S. automakers continue to dominate the midsize sport utility vehicle segment, according to a Power Information Network (PIN) Market Assessment Study released Nov. 29 by J.D. Power and Associates.
Domestic midsize SUVs -- which include the popular Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Blazer, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango -- have comprised more than 70 percent of the midsize SUV market since 1990. This is counter to trends in the overall new-vehicle industry and across many other vehicle segments, where imports are gaining ground. For the first 10 months of 2001, domestic models comprised 72.9 percent of the segment.
"The midsize SUV segment is one where U.S. automakers really have a stronghold," said Tom Libby, analyst and director of consulting operations at J.D. Power and Associates. "The Explorer, Blazer and Grand Cherokee have led the segment in sales for many years. The recent introduction of the all-new 2002 Explorer and TrailBlazer have only strengthened the domestic grip on the segment."
Aiding the U.S. automakers is the fact that European, Korean and several Japanese automakers, including Subaru, Suzuki and Mazda, do not participate in this vehicle segment.
Toyota's combination of the 4Runner and Highlander and Honda's upcoming replacement for the Passport will give the imports added strength in the next few years, according to analysts.
The midsize SUV share of the total new-vehicle industry peaked at 11.1 percent in 1999, falling to 9.3 percent in 2001. Despite this decline, the number of vehicle models in the segment continues to increase, from 15 models in 1999 to 20 in 2001. These trends have caused a decline in sales per model.
"Given its declining overall share and the increased number of entries, this segment is one of the most competitive in the industry and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future," Libby said.
Even though the midsize SUV segment has lost share, the overall sport utility share of the market continues to increase due to the fact that the shares of the other three SUV segments -- entry, full-size and luxury -- are steadily rising. Some of these gains have come at the expense of midsize models. According to PIN data, the movement from midsize SUVs to entry SUVs has increased 42 percent from 1999 to 2001, while the movement to full-size models has jumped 37 percent.
"Entry sport utilities such as the Santa Fe, Escape, Liberty and redesigned RAV4 offer an appealing combination of reasonably priced, car-like comfort with off-road capability," Libby said. "This has pulled in drivers from other segments, including midsize SUV."
PIN is a nationwide electronic data collection network that gathers new-vehicle retail transaction data from more than 5,000 participating auto franchises in 23 U.S. markets. PIN data includes more than 200 details from new-vehicle transactions, ranging from actual transaction prices, rebates and incentives to customer demographics.
This report is the third of three PIN market assessment studies released by J.D. Power and Associates in 2001. Each study is updated with the most recent information every two months for one year from the study's release date.
The PIN Market Assessment Studies break new ground for J.D. Power and Associates by combining information from several of the firm's automotive databases: PIN, customer satisfaction, product quality, sales and forecasting data.
About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in Agoura Hills, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services firm operating in business sectors including market research, forecasting, consulting, training and customer satisfaction.