Here’s something automakers don’t want you to know: They’re starting to panic. After years of record-breaking new car sales, rock-bottom gas prices, and favorable trade relations around the world, the party is crashing to a halt. Car sales are noticeably down for 2017, those millions of cars that were leased over the past three years are flooding dealerships, and the future of global trade is so murky that no one wants to bet big on anything — well, except maybe Tesla.
So the industry is starting to look for places to cut costs and circle the wagons around what’s selling. What’s selling are big vehicles, namely pickup trucks, SUVs, and crossovers. With cheap gas and favorable dealer incentives, Americans are throwing caution to the wind and upgrading to something bigger. So what happens when gas prices inevitably rise again? Well, looking at the current state of things, there will be fewer compact cars, hybrids, and sedans left on the market. But that’s a problem for tomorrow.
Despite record-setting sales numbers, Ford’s low stock prices have sent the company into corporate turmoil. And General Motors is now worth less than Tesla, despite building exponentially more cars around the world. Plus, even though every industry talking head thinks the days of gas-powered vehicles are numbered, Detroit is betting the farm on big, thirsty people-movers.
Will these moves pay off? It’s too early to tell. But clearly, these strange times call for desperate action. For good or ill, that might come at the expense of these 10 cars.
1. Chevrolet Volt
When it launched in 2010, the Chevy Volt was about as high-profile as a car can get as General Motors’ first dedicated hybrid. President Barack Obama toured the production line, and it was named North American Car of the Year and Green Car of the Year in 2011, while a European version, the Opel Ampera, won European Car of the Year in 2012.
But despite a handsome restyle in 2016, the Volt is floundering. At $33,000 and up, it isn’t cheap. And with gas prices staying low, Americans are gobbling up crossovers, making compact cars like the Volt a tough sell — fuel economy be damned. If the Volt disappears, there’s a chance it could come back as a compact crossover.
Next: Is Buick ready to abandon one of its best cars?