Market Snapshot

SUV and CUV Sales on the Rise

 Top 10 Crossover Vehicles
 The best-selling CUV of 2009 is the Honda CR-V, followed by the Ford Escape. The Escape posted a 96% sales increase from January.

 Top 10 Sport Utility Vehicles
 Jeep’s iconic Wrangler, the model that arguably set the standard, still leads the market.

The good news for the automotive industry as a whole is that new car sales have increased. They are nowhere near 2007 and prior levels, but they have been improving nonetheless. The economy hurt the industry and the light-truck market had taken the biggest hit over the last year, mainly because of high gas prices. But even the light-truck segment of the industry has seen improved vehicle sales.

Sales of light trucks have increased by 31% in May compared to January. In particular, each component of the light-truck segment contributed to the overall growth. The individual segment that experienced the most growth was vans, at 55%, but vans represent a small percentage of the overall volume of light-truck vehicles.

Pickup sales grew 26% and SUV sales grew 5% by the end of May. But the most significant growth increase occurred for crossover vehicles, or CUVs. In fact, this segment grew 39% and currently represents 46% of the overall light-truck market. This presents a great opportunity for specialty-equipment manufacturers.

The top-selling SUV in May was the Jeep Wrangler, followed by the Chevrolet Tahoe. These models experienced sales increases of 46% and 64%, respectively. Sales of CUVs overshadow that of SUVs however, with a total for May reaching 205,167 compared to only 60,938 SUVs.

The CUV market is a growing market and continues to chip away at the market share held by SUVs. If consumers and enthusiasts alike make a shift from buying SUVs to CUVs, the market for specialty-equipment parts will shift as well.

Companies that have manufactured and sold parts and accessories for SUVs should be able to add similar items for CUVs if they have not already.

If the same enthusiast who once drove a Ford Expedition now drives a Ford Edge, he or she will likely continue to look to the specialty-equipment market for accessories. The vehicle might be a little different, but the opportunity for customization remains. — SEMA Research & Information Center