Is the hatch back?
Rise of tiny crossovers may pave way for five-doors
Mike Colias - June 5, 2016
HATCHBACKS ARE HOT.
OK, maybe not as hot as crossovers and SUVs, which combined to outsell hatches by a ratio of more than 7-to-1 in 2015. But from a small base, the U.S. market for hatchbacks is expected to grow faster than any of the other nine vehicle body styles tracked by research firm IHS Automotive. It sees 37 percent growth in U.S. hatch sales through to 2020, to 1.1 million vehicles.
Some of the biggest automakers are supplementing their car lineups with five-doors, an effort to soak up some of the demand leaking out of the sedan market...
Hatchbacks are projected to post
the biggest growth among bodystyles
as a % of total U.S. light-vehicle sales.
2015 share - 2020 share - Body style -- %change
04.8% ______ 6.6% ____ Hatchbacks___37.5%
36.8% _____ 39.8% ____ Suv/Cuvs _____8.2%
02.7% ______ 2.8% ____ Coupes _______3.7%
01.1% ______ 1.1% ____ Wagons ______ none
14.6% _____ 14.0% ____ Pickups______-4.1%
33.1% _____ 29.3% ____ Sedans _____ 11.5%
Source: IHS Automotive
...in comparison to Europe, where hatchbacks accounted for 37 percent of the light-vehicle market last year, making it the most popular body style.
But automakers increasingly believe American buyers are willing to forgo having a trunk for the utility of five doors. The booming popularity of crossovers and SUVs may have piqued consumer interest in hatches, along with the promise of space and versatility to haul stuff...
...If automakers have a hatch in their global stable, they'd rather not risk falling off a U.S. shopper's consideration list for simply not having anything on offer...
...Hatches also dominate among electric vehicles and hybrids, including the Toyota Prius, Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, soon-to-launch Hyundai Ioniq and others. They are sure to multiply in coming years as automakers strive to meet federal fuel-economy standards...
...As crossovers continue to shrink in size -- consider the explosion of subcompacts, such as the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and Jeep Renegade -- the line between the traditional hatchback and what consumers think of as an SUV has blurred, says Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell.
"Practicality and flexible cargo space are the big selling points of small crossovers," she said. "That same reasoning can apply to hatchbacks."
Might it also apply to wagons? Probably not, according to IHS' forecast. It foresees U.S. wagon sales limping along at about 1 percent of the light-vehicle market through 2020.