A new year brings with it much promise even if a measure of uncertainty remains. This past year was filled with its share of political and social turmoil, but one of the brightest spots was for the US auto industry as it completes its fifth consecutive year of increasing sales. Sales rarely go up year after year for as long as they have. That streak will end soon — if not in 2015, perhaps in 2016.
Sales, though, are only part of the story. Each car manufacturer brings its own energy to the market, therefore certain auto trends that have been gaining steam in the past few years will likely continue, such as consolation and cooperation between competing manufacturers. The following are the top auto trends we see unfolding this year and beyond.
Cadillac on the Rebound
Brand sales for Cadillac were down 19 percent through Nov. 2014 in contrast to a segment where double-digit gains were common. Cadillac has a new president, Johan de Nysschen, who has instituted a level of discipline not seen there in decades. Indeed, as sales have fallen, Mr. de Nysschen has rallied the troops and helped usher in new models long planned before his arrival. Instead of panicking because of diminished sales, Cadillac has been holding the price line.
For 2015, new models such as the ATS Coupe, CTS V-Series and Escalade should help the brand begin a steady rebound. This April, in New York, Cadillac will unveil its flagship CT6 sedan, a model with a six-figure price tag. Likely, we should also hear during the year about additional new models planned, including a crossover slotted between the SRX and Escalade as well as an even smaller model to slot below the current ATS and designed to take on the Audi A3. That model would offer standard front-wheel drive and optional all-wheel drive.
Nissan Overtakes Honda
At the beginning of 2014, Nissan held a healthy lead over Honda. By late summer that edge had evaporated and globally smaller Honda has once again finished ahead of Nissan as it has done most of the time over the past 40 years. Honda’s trifecta of Accord, Civic and CR-V have been difficult for Nissan to break, but there is one market where Nissan’s growth seems evident: full-size pickup trucks.
Yes, an all-new Nissan Titan will be unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in a few weeks, the second generation of a model introduced in 2004. With a diesel option in the mix and additional body choices available, Titan sales should more than make up for an expected decline in EV Leaf demand. The Sentra is another model that has shone brightly for Nissan and together this automaker could place Honda in its rear view mirror, perhaps permanently.