GM Design Chief Believes Industry Will Shift Back To Sedans35
We recently spoke with the President and CEO of Brembo North America, Dan Sandberg, at the 2019 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Among the topics of discussion was Sandberg’s podcast, Brembo Red, which played host to GM design chief Michael Simcoe in September. During the podcast, Simcoe indicated that he believed the industry would make a shift back to the sedan body style sometime in the future.
Simcoe’s prediction came after Sandberg asked him about the industry-wide move away from sedans and towards utilities. Simcoe responded that he has a personal passion for performance sedans, given the segment was more or less his background in the industry.
Simcoe joined ranks with General Motors as a designer at Holden, and some of his work includes the Holden Commodore (VX), Holden Caprice and Buick Avenir Concept. Later, Simcoe worked as director of design for GM Asia, which provided him with experience with regard to smaller sedans and hatchbacks as well. Now, he enjoys a position as GM design chief.
Simcoe also acknowledged that here in North America, “SUVs are king.”
“But I think what you’re seeing is a shift to SUV cues or more formal SUV cues being applied to lower seating positions in vehicles,” he added. “And that’s where this new term CUV is coming from.”
“The trouble is, the market is mixing both appearance and content so hard these days, it’s very hard to tell what is a true SUV, versus what is a CUV or generally a crossover vehicle,” the GM design chief said.
Regardless, Simcoe said he believes that the cyclical nature of the auto industry means a shift back to the sedan body style is more or less inevitable.
“When hatches and sedans stopped selling, CUVs took their place,” Simcoe said. “But I think there will be a cycle [back to sedans] in the industry. And again, then we go back to electrification, which will make people think differently,” Simcoe said.
At the end of the day, Simcoe believes customers want a car that “says something about them,” with attractive styling and a sense of premium outfit. And that can still include the sedan body style.
“They want to park something in their driveway that their neighbors admire,” the GM design chief said. “So the reason for purchase is the same as it’s always been. I think we’ll cycle back down to lower vehicles and essentially everything will be on the road.”
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Source: Brembo Red
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What kept people in cars was that conventional SUVs weren’t fuel efficient and most were large. You get a lot of functionality and convenience with a CUV and sacrifice very little in the way of fuel efficiency.
I don’t think the sedan market has hit rock bottom, and it will never recovery to even half of what it was in it’s peak
I prefer sedans and coupes, but I can definitely see the appeal of SUV’s and CUV’s.
So how is GM preparing for the shift back? Are they developing new sedans platforms and designs so they can make the shift and reach the markets in short time or they will be late to the game as usual?
GM is preparing with its VSS platform strategy, which combines all platforms (except for Corvette) onto a single core architecture.
This is the same strategy Toyota and VW have taken to their car design – and to a degree, FCA. Though FCA has separate front (Small/Compact) and rear wheel drive platforms (LX/Giorgio), their Small/Compact platform is being merged into one platform, and so they too will have one platform for front-drive cars and car-based SUVs.
The reality is a CUV is just a wagon that is lifted. Making that same platform a sedan is trivial. I think GM shouldn’t have create C1XX and just continued the E2 branding personally. XT4 is the best example of this. It’s literally a lifted XTS with a wagon rear and different folding seats. That’s why it’s the only one of the XT4/XT5/XT6 trio being slated for a V variant.
It’s all interchangeable.
I agree with Andrew.
As time went on the cars become smaller and smaller and now are to the point that you are limited in useful space to haul people and cargo. But with a CUV body on it the usable and flexible space has increased with little to no penalty on fuel.
Today people value utility more than style as styling is not like it used to be. Between safety laws and aerodynamics it limits what many can do and the fact cars get smaller and smaller.
I just read Fins about Harley Earl and his longer and lower look. That worked great when cars were large. Today longer and lower will not work on a Curze of Sonic.
The Advent of the mini van ushered in the idea of utility at the sacrifice to styling. People have come to accept that as the norm now. The making of CUV also has come in as women love them and they buy 50 of the markets new vehicles and influence 70%. Men are ok with them as they look like a SUV and not a Mini van.
Some cars may make a limited come back but they will never be the dominate model in the market again.
The Blazer is trying to bring the sport into the SUV world. Style is coming in with utility.
What are they going to bring the Impala back? lol
If sedans are coming back, eventually, then why are there not any new sedans in the pipeline at GM. The only new sedans coming out are Cadillacs. Everyone can’t afford, or want, a Cadillac. The only affordable sedans they have is the Malibu and the Regal. From what I heard, the Malibu is going away in 2024. Opel might discontinue sending the Regal here because now they are owned by someone else. Hopefully, GM can get with the program before its too late.
Just yesterday was checking out Impala at dealership. Looks great. However, the C-pillar and low roof is very difficult to get in and out of rear seat. My parents could never get in there sorry to say. SUV s definitely easier entry/exit.
Sedans have, or are getting to the point where they serve only 2 kinds of customer. First are those looking for a high performance good handling vehicle. Second is those looking for a cheapie fuel efficient commuter car.
High end sport and luxury are also selling too.
That’s why I’d advocate from this point forward an Alpha based Chevy sedan for the main car from t4 for a sporty commuter to a hot V8, basically a 4-door Camaro or / and Malibu continues as Chevy’s main fwd car and the Alpha sedan will get the sports buyers as most buyers have CUVs to choose from..
Charger nearly meets Malibu in sales despite having less efficient engines but FCA makes money of the truck lineup.
I was looking at my neighbor’s Camato the other day. Thinking of making it into a 4 door car – It reminded me of the mid to late 90’s Grand Prix.. Remember those? They were designed as sedans from the start, but looked much more sporty than the typical “box” of the day.
Look at the Camaro and see if you think it could be stretched a few inches and made into a 4 door car. I think it would look great and sell very well.
How many 4 door sporty cars does BMW sell??? Just my thoughts on this….
Hope he has some eye popping competition killing designs sitting on the back burner.
maybe the slowdown in sedans have something to do with manual transmissions, EVs, eight track, AM stereo, VCRs and pet rocks.
I agree with J.J. above. Although I have had several sedans/cars over the past 20 years, most of my vehicles have been an SUV of some sort (crossover, CUV, etc). Having lived in northern IL where we had lots of hills and snow in winter, I grew up with trucks and then we were early adopters of the SUV. My first one was a brand new 2001 Jeep Cherokee. With that said, I really find it difficult to convince myself to go back into a lower sedan (car) any more.
As an example, I work at a Mazda and Volvo dealership now. We offer the Mazda 3, Mazda 6, Volvo S60 and S90 cars. Unlike years ago when function played a larger role in the design, today’s cars are more style than function and thus have very low roof lines. Just like J.J. said above about the Impala, I can no longer get in or out of the Mazda 3, 6 or S60/S90 without hitting my head on the upper door jam. I’m only 5′ 9″ tall, so it’s not like I’m some giant of a person. Thus, although I enjoy driving sedans, I find myself saying that I just can’t see myself ever going back to one.
Just as there was once a strong demand for station wagons in American society, the desire for CUV could disappear in 20-30 years with consumers moving back to sedans; but until it does.. General Motors needs to continue to design and build new CUVs because it’s what consumers currently want.
Station wagons gave way to the minivan, which gave way to the SUV, which gave way to the CUV. At the end of the day, they are all wagons with varying style and features. I think the public has always preferred the utility of a wagon format, they just couldn’t always get past the styling and image sometimes associated with such vehicles.
If the CUV goes away, it will be because someone tweaked the styling and came up with a catchy new category that will be perceived as somehow more desirable.
Sorry to tell you not……..
SUV is a glorified station. Think about it.
I have a 08 Malibu. Great car but even with a large trunk you can get much in the opening unless it is flat.
I had to unbox much to put thing in at the store.
My CUV will fit anything and carry more people while getting the same Mpg.
I have rented and driven plenty of each. An AWD CUV does not get the same MPG as it’s sedan equivalent. Example 2017 midsize Malibu with 1.5T averaged 30 MPG in city highway mix over the course of a week. Example two a midsize 2018 Equinox with the same 1.5T engine in LT trim could only average 24 overall in the same exact type of driving. That is a difference of 6 MPG!
Another friend has a 2018 Rav 4 AWD LE with the 2.5 engine and struggles to get over 28 MPG even on highway trips. While in the shop the Toyota dealer gave him a same year Camry with the 2.5 engine and that car actually got close to 40 on the highway which shocked both of us.
Have also driven plenty of Trax’s with both FWD and AWD and the struggling 1.4T and they usually averaged between 25-27. Rental Cruzes of the same vintage for 2016-2019 averaged well over 30 usually 32-33.
My 2017 LT 2.5 Impala got 36 highway MPG two years in a row on an 8 hour trip to Ohio from Upstate, NY and a driving range of 600 miles! An impossibility with any CUV I have ever rented. Note that I have never got my hands on a hybrid CUV and haven’t driven any of the really small ones like the CHR, HRV or Kona but judging their MPG ratings highly doubt they get anywhere near the MPG of an equivalent compact sedan made recently.
My experience does not match yours. I have an Equinox with the LTG 2.0T, and it’s easy to get 34mpg on the highway. I also have a Camaro with the same engine and it gets the exact same mileage.
I used to own a Trax and it easily achieved 33-35mpg on the highway.
Not sure what universe you are living in, but I’ve found unibody crossovers usually get exactly the same mileage as their sedan counterparts, maybe 1-2mpg worse, but never more than that.
I think that FWD hatchbacks and sportbacks are still very desirable options for certain consumers. Not everyone has the need for an AWD crossover.
Price point is a huge selling point for me. If there is a sedan or sportback available for thousands of dollars less it becomes a viable option over a hatchback.
The raising of fuel prices through a federal gas tax (or mileage tax for electrics) to pay for all the infrastructure we need to replace, would have a large bearing on what people would buy. This infrastructure repair/replace has to happen soon as roads and bridges are falling apart.
I’m glad my life makes a sedan perfect for me. I bought a 19 Cruze. No high payments or high insurance rates for me. The new trucks and SUV’s are a hazard on the roads and parking lots. They always hinder your visibility which lowers your safety factor and heightens your chances for a mishap.
After being GM my whole life (70 years & my family owned a Buick dealership), I will likely never buy another GM vehicle. I’ll keep my 2012 Lacrosse until I run the wheels off of it, then buy either a Honda or Toyota sedan. Am leaning on trading my 2016 Sierra Crew Cab on a Ram. Why? Consumer Reports reliability survey shows GM vehicles generally suck, no more sedans, and I am not a fan of stop/start technology.
Another factor why sedans don’t sell over CUVs is diminished capabilities, what I mean is even up to 2001 or so you could get a Panther body Ford (Crown Vic, etc) to tow 5000lb and ride 6 people in the car.
As time went on towing capacity disappeared on cars also seating capacity also gone due to cramped interiors with bucket-o-chicken seats for the “sports” feeling in hybrids, family sedans and economy cars while more practical buyers went to the CUVs because of those things, not saying bring back land boats but make mainstream sedans more practical.
I still do not understand why GM got rid of the Cruze. Yes it wasn’t anywhere good enough vs the Segment but now ex Cruze and Ford Focus customers are migrating to Toyota Corolla and Honda Civics per reports. GM is always so short sighted because the Bean-Counters are running the Company.
Cruze It’s a peice of crap ? GM cant make 20 different cars no one can anymore.
Just get 5 really bitchin cars , also a truck division, that well help the beaner counters .
Cruze is a less than car. GM can’t make 20 different cars anymore, just make the 5 best cars they can. With a truck division that will help the bean… counters also
Mary would have that much less to make bad decisions about. ???
I hope they do but as usual GM will wait until the imports flood the market and the customers will not return IT is pretty obvious all the idiots siting in their cushion chairs don’t read these comments OR don’t care
Rover and many other beem there done that’s nothing new,
I AGREE !!!!