Top Toyota Sales Exec Says The Sedan's Days Are Numbered

Illustration for article titled Top Toyota Sales Exec Says The Sedan's Days Are Numbered

The Toyota Camry, enduring as death and taxes, is going to be outsold by the RAV4 according to the company’s top U.S. Sales Executive Bob Carter. He thinks compact SUVs will bump economical sedans as people’s “default vehicle” sooner than later.


“I’ll bet you lunch that will happen,” Carter reportedly told Bloomberg and other journalists at a Toyota holiday party. “Many of these under-35-year-old buyers, who are entering the market in a big way right now, grew up in SUVs.”

What restaurant he was referring to in his wager was not specified, so the stakes of Carter’s claim could be anywhere from a $.99 to, I don’t know, what’s the most you can spend on lunch without feeling like a total glutton? $100?

Anyway it is true that sport utilities have come a long way from “trucks with more seats” to comfortable, sometimes fuel-efficient everyman peoplemovers since those now-35-year-old buyers got their driver’s licenses.

In 1996 a Toyota RAV4 was a novelty that rode like a Jeep with a bad reaction to a bee sting.

Illustration for article titled Top Toyota Sales Exec Says The Sedan's Days Are Numbered

Now the little thing’s loaded with usability features and isn’t much more expensive than a compact sedan while offering a lot more perceived capability. It’s also rated to 31 MPG, by the way.


Bloomberg says Carter went on to claim “Compact SUVs such as the RAV4, Honda CR-V and Ford Escape now outsell mid-sized sedans such as the Camry and Honda Accord.” That might actually mean he’d been overserved at this “holiday party” because as of November Toyota’s data says the RAV4 is still about 100,000 units shy of the Camry’s sales figure for 2015.

However his sentiment stands true; the compact SUV is building steam a lot harder than the sedan, which is actually down on sales. Here’s a comparison of how both vehicles have been moving off lots over the last twelve years via data from GoodCarBadCar:

Illustration for article titled Top Toyota Sales Exec Says The Sedan's Days Are Numbered

Carter made the point that a modern SUV, especially the smaller ones we call “crossovers,” basically give buyers more space and features than a sedan at a minimal fuel economy tax and purchase-price premium.

As to why people flock to these lifted hatchbacks as opposed to station wagons, the jury’s still out. I blame the schools. Kidding, more like our culture’s obsession with machismo that subliminally influences you to want a car with more ride height ergo some vague association with toughness.


Think we’ll be on to a different trend by the time RAV4 sales actually have a chance to pass Camry, or will compact SUVs indeed be the basic bitch car of the future?


Image via Toyota

Contact the author at



I was walking in the parking lot at work the other day and was amazed at how many non-sedans there were. Then I was thinking about my vehicles, needs and wants - and 4 door sedans just don’t have a place. Why not get a wagon, or a CUV or SUV which will have more space, be more comfortable and get basically the same gas mileage? The only people I see driving “cars” 10 years from now are old people and leasees

Also, please end my purgatory in 50 shades of grey!