Toyota and Honda Have Good Reason Not to Abandon Sedans

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Ford’s already brought the axe down on all but one of its car models, and General Motors looks ready to do the same. Other automakers, however, know that ditching sedans would mean abandoning key groups of customers.

For Toyota and Honda, models like the Camry and Civic resonate far more among some demographics, and leaving that segment risks losing those buyers to other brands. Not everyone wants a crossover. Among Asians, Hispanics, and African-Americans, four Japanese nameplates keep popping up at the top of the most-bought list, but one domestic model poses a growing threat.

You’ve probably already guessed the identity of that domestic model. It is, after all, the world’s best-selling vehicle: the Ford F-150.

In a study of who buys what, IHS Markit (via Automotive News) mapped out the market share of individual models among different demographics, revealing just how important the sedan is to Toyota and Honda.

Industrywide, the F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, and Ram 1500 topped U.S. new vehicle sales through the end of April, with the Toyota RAV4 and Honda Civic in fourth and fifth place. Together, those five nameplates make up 15.2 percent of all sales. Break it down into identity groups, however, and the trucks (mainly) take a hike.

2018 Toyota Camry SE white - Image: Toyota

Among women, the RAV4 and Honda CR-V take the top two spots, followed by the Civic, Camry, and Chevrolet Equinox. Asian buyers? The top two spots stay the same, and the Camry and Civic change places in the order of things. The Honda Accord muscles into fifth place.

It’s a sensible, dependable, small car bonanza among Hispanic buyers, though the top five isn’t without its cargo carriers. Within this demographic, the Civic, Camry, and Corolla take gold, silver, and bronze. In fourth place is the RAV4, followed by the Silverado.

You’ll find the Camry sitting pretty at the top of African-American buyers’ shopping lists, but the F-150 occupies second place. The seemingly can-do-no-wrong pickup is gaining ground in this demographic, IHS Markit claims, threatening the dominance of Toyota’s midsizer. In third place among African-Americans is the Accord, followed by the Civic and Nissan Sentra.

Image: Honda

Depending on the demographic, certain cities make up the bulk of a model’s sales. Nissan picks up 30 percent of its Hispanic Sentra sales in Los Angeles. Places like Atlanta and Chicago are crucial for the selling of sedans to African-American customers. We’ve touched on this before — Ford has difficulty selling to Hispanics, and Southerners in general seem wary of Subaru, so much so that it’s top of mind in the brand’s new global product strategy.

Without this kind of brand loyalty on their side, automakers like Ford feel it’s okay to erase the board and try again at the lower end of the market. That just leaves OEMs like Toyota and Honda with the opportunity to snap up buyers abandoned by their brand — in the short-term, anyway.

Speaking to Automotive News, Marc Bland, IHS Markit’s vice president of diversity and inclusion, said cars “still have a real place” in the market.

“The brands that are offering the most choice, I think, are going to win in the long run because of this freedom of choice,” he said.

[Image: Honda, Toyota]

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