Crossovers and SUVs have taken over the luxury vehicle market in the U.S., Ford and Lincoln prepare for EV crossovers, Ferrari wants to make more cars but not too many more cars, the Toyota RAV4 gets recalled, and Fiat’s future vehicles. All of this and more in The Morning Shift for Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019.
1st Gear: Even The Luxury Vehicle Market Is Catching Onto The Crossover Craze
You might have thought, ignoring obvious signs like the Lamborghini Urus, Aston Martin DBX and the like, that the crossover craze was just circulating among us regular folks. But it’s not, Bloomberg reports—it’s slithering all the way up into the luxury vehicle market.
Bloomberg reports that crossovers and SUVs now make up 60 percent of U.S. luxury vehicle sales, according to Edmunds, which has shoved the sedan right on out as the vehicle of choice in that area of the auto market.
Sedans were the luxury choice for a long time, but not anymore, Bloomberg reports:
The earliest luxury SUVs date back to the late 1990s with vehicles such as the Lexus RX and Lincoln Navigator. But those brands still viewed sedans such as the Lexus LS and Lincoln Town Car as their flagship models.
Sport utilities and crossovers first overtook sedans in the mainstream vehicle market five years ago. It took longer for luxury buyers to make a similar transition, but now automakers are racing to ramp up production to meet demand. Edmunds says the number of SUV options has grown to more than 60 different vehicles, double the number offered a decade ago.
It’s gotten to the point that seven out of the best 10 selling luxury vehicles last year were crossovers or SUVs, Bloomberg reports. Bloomberg even has a chart showing how many cars versus SUVs automakers are selling here, and it’s pretty obvious which type of vehicle is winning out.
Bloomberg has more on the story, and our precious cars’ demise, here.
2nd Gear: Ford, Lincoln Get Ready For Electric Crossovers: Report
Ford wants to build two midsize electric crossovers for Ford and Lincoln in the Detroit area for the 2023 model year, Automotive News reports. That’s based on what unnamed sources told the outlet, saying production of the two crossovers had been moved from Mexico to the Flat Rock plant in Michigan.
Here’s the deal from the unnamed sources, via Automotive News:
Both will be 2023 models, with production starting in late 2022 or early 2023. Ford has asked suppliers to prepare for production of up to 65,000 units per year, one of the sources said. [...]
The automaker has revealed plans to build EVs in Flat Rock, but details of those vehicles were unclear.
The addition of the two EVs essentially signals the end to U.S. production of the slow-selling Lincoln Continental, which Ford builds at Flat Rock Assembly alongside the Ford Mustang. Ford is expected to stop making the Continental there in late 2021, according to two of the sources, while continuing to produce the large sedan in China.
A company spokesperson declined to comment to Automotive News about the reports, which is common—automaker spokespeople typically don’t discuss future products.
But, the story said, the reported U.S. production of the two EVs is expected to be used as leverage in upcoming United Auto Workers union negotiations, since the union wants more U.S. investment from automakers like Ford.
3rd Gear: Ferrari Wants To Make More Cars, But Not Too Many
Reuters reports that Ferrari’s looking to expand its road-car lineup—but not too much, because exclusivity is all-important to that brand. The idea is to increase sales of the more laid-back, grand tourers, Reuters cites Ferrari Chairman John Elkann as saying, but not to the point that it rivals Porsche’s annual sales volume. Again, exclusivity.
On the topic of more comfortable, road-trip-ready vehicles like grand tourers, Reuters reports that Ferrari has a new one on the way. Here’s more on that and Ferrari’s idea for future sales, via Reuters:
Elkann hinted Ferrari will unveil a new GT type car in November. Ferrari has said previously that about 40% of its total sales could come from GT cars by 2022, up from 32% now.
Ferrari has outlined plans to expand revenue to 5 billion euros ($5.54 billion) by 2022 from 3.4 billion euros in 2017. The company has said it plans to add a model called the Purosangue to compete with a growing stable of sport utility vehicles wearing premium sports car brands, such as the Lamborghini Urus.
Rival Porsche AG, a unit of Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE), has expanded its sales to more than 250,000 sports cars and sport utility vehicles annually. Elkann said Ferrari is not aiming for Porsche’s level of sales.
In 2017, for reference, Ferrari reported shipping out 8,398 cars.
4th Gear: Toyota Recalls 14,000 RAV4 Models For Issues With The Backup Cameras
Backup cameras are now a requirement on new cars in the U.S., and it looks like the ones in the 2019 Toyota RAV4 and RAV4 Hybrid might not be working as they should. The automaker is recalling 14,215 of the vehicles for potentially faulty backup cameras, caused by a connector problem that could result in the backup camera not popping up when the vehicle goes into reverse.
Here’s the deal, via the recall documents:
If the backup camera system does not activate, it would cause the subject vehicles to not meet certain requirements in FMVSS No. 111, paragraph S6.2(b). If the driver reverses the vehicle without checking his/her surroundings when the vehicle has this condition, there can be an increased risk of a crash.
There’s already a remedy drawn out for dealerships, and the plan is for Toyota to notify owners about the recall in around a month. And, as always, remember to check your recalls and get them done.
5th Gear: Fiat’s Five-Model Plan For Europe
Autocar reports that Fiat, in Europe, has a plan for the future that includes five models and is centered around the Fiat 500 and a new Panda. There are plans for an electric Fiat 500, a 500 Giardiniera estate, a 500X and a replacement for the Tipo that will likely be an SUV, Autocar reports.
But the main idea for Fiat is that it wants to focus on urban transportation and family transportation. That means, via Autocar:
This means Fiat will continue to offer small cars like the Panda and 500 – in Europe, Fiat dominates this market, the pair accounting for one third of city car sales – and also a range of larger vehicles suitable for families.
“For our future product plan, we need the right balance between the two dimensions: the Fiat 500 family and family transportation. There will be no big cars, no premium cars, no sporty cars because they have no legitimacy,” said François. “We will be present in the C-segment [Ford Focus class] but not much more. All models will sit within 3.5m and 4.5m. This is where Fiat will play. We need more EVs. And we need more 500 models that look legitimate enough to take higher pricing.”
Fiat sales have been largely terrible here in the U.S., so we’ll see how that strategy plays out on this side of the pond.
If you want to read more on the “no sporty cars” deal, Autocar has it here.
Reverse: Launch Of The Voyager 2
Voyager 2 was launched on Aug. 20, 1977, according to NASA. Its mission was to explore the outer planets of this solar system, and that it did. Via NASA:
Voyager 2 and its twin, Voyager 1, discovered active volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Io and revealed details of Saturn’s rings. Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft that has visited Uranus and Neptune.
Go ahead and get your Uranus joke in. Just do it.
Neutral: Is There An End In Sight For The Crossover Craze?
What’s next? Wagons? Hopefully.