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Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Sedans Versus Heavy Passenger US market including the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

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What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

Light and heavy passenger vehicle owners are two opposite sides of the same coin. What drives one group toward smaller, sportier passenger vehicles is what repels the other consumers group and pushes them into the arms of the more spacious heavy passenger segment. Automakers need to understand that these groups are unlikely to cross over into the other territory, and maintaining a robust vehicle line-up, rather than focusing solely on one type, is a more effective sales strategy.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Hannah Keshishian, a leading analyst in the Automotive sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Consumers don’t have much affinity for OEMs, but it is a different story when it comes to their vehicle type. Across vehicle types, the majority of consumers are considering sticking with their current vehicle type for their next purchase. Changes in the market are less driven by consumer demands and are instead occurring due to business decisions made at the national level. While the heavy passenger vehicle segment will rebound from a COVID-19 pandemic much more quickly than small passenger vehicles, it doesn’t mean the small passenger vehicle market is a hopelessly lost cause as some OEMs would have one think.
Hannah Keshishian
Automotive Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • A tale of two vehicle types
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
    • Light passenger vehicle: a grouping of vehicles that includes sedans, coupes and minicars.
    • COVID-19: market context
    • Economic and other assumptions
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
    • What’s next for the market?
    • Impact of COVID-19 on the automotive industry
      • Figure 1: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on sedans and heavy passenger vehicles, November 2020
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • COVID-19 can lead to more multi-car households in the future
    • COVID-19 incentives help with affordability, but not entirely
      • Figure 2: Attitude toward COVID-19 incentives, September 2020
    • Lifestyle drives loyalty to vehicle type
      • Figure 3: Perception of how vehicles fit within consumers lifestyles, September 2020
    • OEMs can market their vehicles as lifestyle accessories
      • Figure 4: Reasons for not considering a heavy passenger vehicle, September 2020
      • Figure 5: Reasons for not considering a light passenger vehicle, September 2020
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • SUVs will recover quickly; sedan recovery will lag
    • More US households could become two-car homes
    • Consumers have maintained their long-term purchase intent
  4. Market Size and Forecast

    • Overall, the general market is paced to recover in longer term
      • Figure 6: Total US unit sales and forecast of new sedans and heavy passenger vehicles, at current prices, 2015-25
    • Impact of COVID-19 on sedans and heavy passenger vehicles
      • Figure 7: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on sedans, November 2020
    • Lockdown
    • Reemergence
    • Recovery
    • COVID-19: US context
    • Learnings from the last recession
    • OEMs repeat history and scale back on sedans during economic crisis
  5. Segment Performance

    • Fewer options breed poor sedan sales beyond 2020 and the pandemic
      • Figure 8: Total US unit sales and forecast of new light passenger vehicles, at current prices, 2015-25
    • Heavy passenger vehicles will recover sooner than sedans
      • Figure 9: Total US unit sales and forecast of new heavy passenger vehicles, at current prices, 2015-25
  6. Market Factors

    • Auto sales give an assist to a re-emerging (but still down) GDP
      • Figure 10: GDP change from previous period, Q1 2007-Q2 2020
    • High unemployment and low consumer confidence correlate to low vehicle sales
      • Figure 11: Consumer confidence and unemployment, 2000-October 2020
    • Low driving volumes have contributed to low car sales
      • Figure 12: Frequency of driving since the start of the pandemic, September 2020
    • Longer-term purchase intent remains unchanged
      • Figure 13: Purchase intent, September 2020
  7. Market Opportunities

    • More US households could become multi-car homes
      • Figure 14: Number of vehicles in household, September 2020
    • COVID-19 incentives try to tackle vehicle affordability
      • Figure 15: Attitude toward COVID-19 incentives, September 2020
    • Larger vehicles can be leveraged as the “safer” vehicle purchase
      • Figure 16: Perception of safety toward larger cars, September 2020
  8. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Kia is intent on keeping sedans
    • Tesla’s Cybertruck redesign is the pinnacle of understanding consumer needs
  9. Competitive Strategies

    • Kia continues to bet on sedans
      • Figure 17: Kia K5 sedan social video
    • Automakers compete for the EV pickup market
    • Tesla Cybertruck
      • Figure 18: Tesla Cybertruck
    • Ford EV F-150
      • Figure 19: Ford EV F-150
    • Rivian R1T
      • Figure 20: Rivian R1T
    • GM cuts 10 sedans in five years
      • Figure 21: General Motors focuses on electric vehicles
  10. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Sedans are the most-owned vehicle
    • Female consumers drive SUV popularity
    • Power and performance attract heavy passenger consumers
    • Light passenger vehicle consumers seek stylish cars
    • Lifestyle needs dictate vehicle segment preference
  11. Consumer Trend Drivers Impacting Sedans and Heavy Passenger Vehicles

    • Value
    • Technology
    • Identity
  12. Vehicle Ownership by Type

    • Sedans are the most owned vehicle
      • Figure 22: Vehicle types in household, September 2020
    • SUVs are a girl’s best friend; gentlemen prefer sedans
      • Figure 23: Vehicle types in household, by gender, September 2020
    • Changes in lifestyles can prompt a switch in segments
      • Figure 24: Vehicle types in household, by age, September 2020
    • Higher-income households more likely to own SUVs
      • Figure 25: Vehicle types in household, by household income, September 2020
  13. Vehicle Purchase Consideration by Type

    • SUVs and Sedans reign supreme; pickups are still a niche
      • Figure 26: Vehicle types considered, September 2020
    • Consumers are loyal to their vehicle type
      • Figure 27: Vehicle types considered, by current type ownership, September 2020
    • Women drive SUV popularity
      • Figure 28: Vehicle types considered, by gender, September 2020
  14. Preferred Heavy Passenger Vehicle Features

    • All-wheel drive attracts car buyers to the segment
      • Figure 29: Vehicle types considered, September 2020
    • Parents prefer vehicles with third row seating
      • Figure 30: Vehicle types considered, by parental status, September 2020
  15. Reasons for Light Passenger Vehicle Consideration

    • Style matters most to light passenger vehicle owners
      • Figure 31: Reasons for considering a light passenger vehicle, September 2020
    • Smaller cars are bastions of affordability
      • Figure 32: Perception of affordability, September 2020
    • Small passenger vehicles perceived as being more fun
      • Figure 33: Perception of light passenger vehicles as more fun to drive, September 2020
  16. Barriers to Segment Entry

    • Style and size matter to car buyers
      • Figure 34: Reasons for not considering a heavy passenger vehicle, September 2020
      • Figure 35: Reasons for not considering a light passenger vehicle, September 2020
    • Vehicle segment and lifestyle needs go hand in hand
      • Figure 36: Consumer attitudes toward other vehicle segments, September 2020
    • Large vehicle affordability plagues pretty much everyone
      • Figure 37: Heavy passenger vehicle affordability, September 2020
    • No new friends: consumers aren’t interested in other vehicle types
      • Figure 38: Likelihood of repurchasing same vehicle type, September 2020
  17. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Forecast
    • Consumer survey data
    • Direct marketing creative
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
  18. Appendix – The Consumer

      • Figure 39: Desired vehicle features, by current SUV owners, September 2020

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.


Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.


Mintel’s proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.


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