Four-cylinder cars rule, are powerful & popular

Fuel economy and four-cylinder vehicles now rule the road. Experian’s latest Market Trends and Loyalty report shows that those smart and savvy four-cylinder vehicle,for the first time ever, outpace any other light-duty vehicle type on the road.

They are more powerful current four-cylinder-engine technology has made these vehicles increasingly powerful. Model year 2016 four-cylinder engines on average are just as powerful as eight-cylinder engines from 20 years ago.

“The option of a small vehicle with good fuel economy has always had a significant appeal to consumers. The advances we’ve seen in horsepower and fuel efficiency among these vehicles are very encouraging,” said Brad Smith, Experian’s director of automotive data and analytics. “Perhaps we’ll see similar improvement in the hybrid/electric vehicle segment over the next 20 years. Keeping an eye on these types of key trends in the automotive sector will assist auto manufacturers in determining their go-forward strategies, enabling them to stay competitive and help them grow their bottom line.”

A look at the top five vehicles at both the vehicles in operation (VIO) and registration levels shows that all but one have four-cylinder engines.

Growth in registrations and VIO

Total new vehicle registrations for January through September 2016 reached 13.1 million. While there has been continued growth since the Great Recession, the pace has been slowing. In 2012, the growth rate year over year reached a peak of 13.7 percent, but since then it has slowed to only 4.2 percent in 2015 and 0.6 percent in 2016.

The report also shows that consumer retail registrations actually declined by 1 percent year over year. Interestingly, this softening of the retail market is being offset by increases in fleet registrations, specifically in the government, commercial and rental categories. Each of those segments grew in registrations by 20 percent, 7.5 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.

Along with the growth in registrations, the number of light-duty VIO also continued to increase — with total U.S. VIO reaching 265.3 million as of September 2016.

Market share and loyalty

The top five winners for market share in Q3 2016:

  • Manufacturer: GM (16.4 percent), Toyota (15.8 percent), Ford (12 percent), FCA LLC (11.9 percent) and Honda (11.6 percent).
  • Make: Toyota (13.1 percent), Ford (11.3 percent), Chevrolet (11 percent), Honda (10.5 percent) and Nissan (7.6 percent).
  • Model: Ford F-150 (2.8 percent), Honda Civic (2.7 percent), Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (2.6 percent), Honda CR-V (2.5 percent) and Toyota RAV4 (2.5 percent).

There also were some big market share growth winners in Q3. At the manufacturer level, Tesla, Volvo and Tata enjoyed major gains of 63.1 percent, 39.9 percent and 21.5 percent, respectively. At the make level, Audi, Jeep and Honda experienced market share growth of 6.2 percent, 5.4 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively. For models, there also was some significant growth. The Nissan Rogue gained 20.9 percent market share, followed by the Nissan Sentra and the Toyota RAV4, with an increase of 14.5 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

The top five leaders in vehicle loyalty for Q3 2016:

  • Manufacturer: GM (74.4 percent), Ford (73.2 percent), Subaru (71.3 percent) FCA LLC (70.6 percent) and Toyota (69.9 percent).
  • Make: Ford (71.9 percent), Subaru (71.3 percent), Chevrolet (68.3 percent), Lincoln (66.3 percent) and Mercedes-Benz (66.1 percent).
  • Model: Ram 1500 (52.4 percent), Lincoln MKX (51.6 percent), Ford F-150 (49.1 percent), Lincoln MKZ (48.2 percent) and Subaru Outback (46.7 percent).