A Future Without Sedans?

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Release date: 11/7/2019

NAFA Regular Member Robert Martinez, Deputy Commissioner, Support Services Bureau, New York City Police Department, only sees one real downside to switching his marked patrol fleet from sedans to SUVs. It’s not about cost, fuel mileage, or performance. No, it’s about the perception of all those things.

What he’s found instead is that the upsides are “almost too good to be true.”

So much so that his collection is now 70 percent SUVs and 30 percent sedans — and likely will be for as long as sedans continue to be available. The SUVs have a higher line of sight and ground clearance for responding to emergencies, they can hold more equipment, they handle equally as well, and thanks to ongoing advances in hybrids and electrics, the gas mileage is on par, Martinez said.

“There are certain drivers who still prefer a sedan as opposed to an SUV,” he admits. “But as the sedans are phased out, we’ll eventually convert to 100 percent SUVs.” Also, he said, within the next five years, he’s hoping to convert almost 100 percent of his 10,000-vehicle overall fleet to hybrids.

With Ford phasing out most of its sedans other than the Mustang — and GM not far behind — police fleets aren’t the only ones refiguring their assets. There have been discussions for some time about a potential “future without sedans” as SUVs become an increasingly popular choice — and not just among executives.

But is talk becoming reality? Not everyone is convinced.

A pretty good argument: NAFA Associate Member Mike Slevin, Manager, Commercial Sales South Central, Hyundai Motor America, believes he has a “pretty powerful argument” that sedans are a viable option to the SUV craze. And yes, there are sedans, crossovers, and SUVs among Hyundai’s offerings.

First, Slevin notes, “Everybody is going to an SUV because everybody is going to an SUV. We’re a copycat society. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to do.” It certainly won’t be if gas prices skyrocket once again. The main challenge with SUVs, he said, is the future resale value, which will be heavily dependent on supply and demand. With sedans, however, there’s a solid secondary and often third market.

To be fair, Slevin said, there are also reasons for an SUV, including the fact that it offers additional room and greater ease for loading and unloading.

But it comes down to the intended application, he said — and not every application needs an SUV. Slevin touts the technology, safety features, and practicality of every size vehicle in the company’s line, with the Hyundai Elantra mid-size sedan, the Kona subcompact crossover, the Tucson crossover, and the Santa Fe SUV and an all-new Sonata for the 2020 model year. And as Ford and GM have been scaling back, he said, he’s hearing from more fleet professionals exploring what Hyundai has available.

Fleet professionals wanting to meet requests for cars other than sedans may also choose different sizes for, say, different levels of management.

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