By Paul Wimsett from our UK desk
The term “passenger cars” might seem a bit dubious, after all, most people agree that all cars are passenger cars and even AVs (self-drive) cars are ultimately designed for passengers (though there may be self-driving lorries which will do away with passengers altogether).
Ironically, what it means is a car designed for less than 10 people, for example, an SUV. So ultimately it refers to a lack of passengers! Go figure. It is a confusing term though it can refer to all cars as opposed to trucks. It includes taxis and Ubers. It may even include pick-ups.
One reason for the distinction is tax and license designation. If you don’t use a car on the road, say you use it as an off-road vehicle or store it in a carport, a garage or some other long term storage it doesn’t count as a passenger car. If you keep a car outside your house whether you move it or not it still counts as a passenger car and needs to be treated as such, that is all the tax and insurance needs to be kept up to date.
If you build a car from a kit or convert it from a tractor or similar vehicle it does count as a passenger car.
So to reiterate SUVs and pickups may not meet the description of passenger car. But what does this mean in practice?
Well, when collecting data for example. Since SUVs are the most popular type of vehicle eliminating them from the figures might not seem a good move. After all, if the figures say that sales of passenger cars are falling and it fails to take into account that SUV figures are rising, it gives a false idea about what the car market is doing.
Though Mercedes believe items like the G-class and GLE are passenger cars. A G-class is a jeep like a vehicle while a GLE is more SUV like. Possibly different firms have different descriptions? It all becomes complicated but it must ultimately come down to figures. So be wary of what a car-related statistic is saying and research the figures thoroughly.
It’s not exactly clear why buyers are rejecting a traditional car shape and prefer something like the SUV or jeep isn’t clear. This may just be a blip as crossover vehicles (those which aren’t quite SUVs so are more likely to qualify as passenger cars) build up in popularity, such as the Honda R-V. The fact all these cars have an all-wheel drive may suggest a liking for survival type vehicles, rather than something more A to B?
It seems that baby boomers are the ones who have moved away from the sedan, it is possible that they see them as a Dad car (remember the male market is strongest for this age group). So a full overhaul might be needed to save the sedan. Except it’s hard for a car to change its form without changing its name.