London-based automotive business intelligence firm JATO Dynamics recently published new statistics which reveal that as of April 2020, more than half of new cars sold in the U.S. are equipped with either AWD or 4WD. That means that if this trend holds, AWD and 4WD vehicles will take up more than half of the U.S. car market for the very first time.
The findings were published via an infographic, which was posted to the JATO Dynamics Twitter feed. The infographic shows a steady rise in AWD and 4WD new vehicle sales, starting at 39.7 percent in 2016, and topping out at 50.8 percent in 2020. Note that the numbers include sales through April of 2020.
Front-wheel drive vehicles remain in second place, declining from 47.9 percent in 2016, to 40.1 percent in 2020, bottoming out at 38.7 percent in 2019. Rear-wheel drive vehicles remain a distant third, falling from 12.4 percent in 2016, to 9.1 percent in 2020.
Indeed, it certainly appears as though AWD and 4WD vehicles will take up the majority of new car sales going forward.
Currently, the overwhelming majority of General Motors models in the U.S. offer either AWD or 4WD. That includes 10 out of 17 Chevrolet models (59 percent), six out of seven GMC models (86 percent), 100 percent of Cadillac model, and 100 percent of Buick model. In total, 27 of 35 GM models (77 percent) offer either AWD or 4WD. Add in the new Chevrolet Trailblazer, and that percentage is bumped up to 78 percent.
The proliferation of AWD and 4WD vehicles goes hand in hand with broader automotive industry trends. All-wheel drive and 4WD systems are becoming lighter, more efficient, and less expensive, while enthusiast interest in off-roader-style pickups and utility vehicles, as well as high-performance models requiring enhanced on-road traction, has increased, thus boosting sales of AWD and 4WD vehicles.
Looking ahead, it’s possible that the move to all-electric powertrains may increase the adoption rate of AWD and 4WD vehicles even further, given the relative simplicity of adding electric motors to an EV platform versus the complexity of a mechanical AWD/4WD system.
Source: JATO Dynamics via Twitter