The Planning Edge, a Birmingham, Michigan-based automotive market research and analysis firm, says that crossover-utility-vehicle (CUV) sales will exceed three million by 2009. That figure will top projected SUV sales of 2.7 million units for the same year, according to a report by the Specialty Equipment Manufacturer’s Association (SEMA).
CUVs—vaguely defined, but generally a vehicle built with a unibody construction on a car platform, with the ride height and ground clearance of an SUV—comprise the fastest- growing segment within the light-truck category.
Alan Baum, director of automotive forecasting for The Planning Edge, said the growth of the CUV segment has come primarily at the expense of cars sales, which have dropped from 55 percent to 47 percent of the market. CUVs sales have had only a modest impact on the sales of minivans and full-size SUVs, Baum said in the SEMA report.
Baum said the midsize SUV will lose customers to the crossover segment, while the full-size SUV will hold its own.
In 1999, there were only five models in the CUV category, including the Pontiac Aztek, the Lexus RX 300 and the Subaru Forester. By 2004, there were 34 models, and there will be 55 CUV models by 2009, Baum said.
David Herrmeyer, founding publisher and editor of Trucking Times & Sport Utility News, believes the SUV segment has not yet peaked. "I don't see it declining for quite a while," he said in the SEMA report. "GM's price cuts are a response to a greater selection of SUVs and increased competition within the segment, not a declining market."
According to the "SEMA Industry Update 2004," the light-truck market-which includes pickups, vans, crossovers and sport-utility vehicles-accounts for over half of all vehicles sold in the U.S.