The rapid petrol price increases have not modified the consumers preferences when buying vehicles in USA. The most recent sales data shows that despite the increasing inflation and the uncertain economic times, the people in America continue to buy big vehicles.

According to the information from JATO Dynamics, the SUVs and pickup trucks posted a new record market share during the first four months of this year. These two segments made up 72.9% of total passenger vehicle sales between January and April 2022. That’s equivalent to 3.32 million units from a total of 4.56 million. SUVs represented 53.5%, while the trucks counted for 19.4%.

It is by far the world’s largest share of these vehicle, and another example of how different the US vehicle market is from the rest of the world. It also explains why the electrification is taking longer to take off than in other regions such as Europe and China. The consumers in USA are simply addicted to petrol.

The fastest growing segments too

In addition to their dominant position, the SUV and Pickup segments were also the biggest market share winners over the last four years. In January-April 2019, a year before the pandemic hit the global economies, the two segments represented 63.0% of total sales. The market share increased to 67.9% in 2020, and then to 70.5% during the first four months of last year.

In total, their market share has expanded by 9.9 points between 2019 (pre-pandemic) and 2022. The case of the SUVs is more remarkable. Their market share never stopped growing, jumping from 46.1% in 2019 to 47.5% in 2020, to 52.3% in 2021. This means that their market share increased by 7.4 points during these years.

US vehicle market by body type from January to April 2022

That growth quite matches the drop registered by saloons, the biggest losers during this time. Their share dropped from 23.4% in Jan-Apr 2019 to just 16.3% this year. That’s 7.1 points down. In terms of volume, saloons found 1.25 million new clients in 2019 and just 742,000 this year through April. Nevertheless, they were the third largest segment in the country.

The SUVs from Tesla, Hyundai and Toyota, the big winners

Part of the increasing popularity of SUVs is explained by the strong sales results of the Tesla Model Y. Since its introduction in 2020, it has become the most popular electric vehicle in USA, outselling its brother the Model 3. Actually, the Model Y was the 13th best-selling vehicle in the overall ranking through April, and the 7th best-selling SUV.

US SUV top 25 sales by brand January to April 2022

Consequently, it has allowed Tesla to increase its market share within the SUV segment from 0.2% in 2019 to 2.7% this year. That’s the highest increase among all the brands selling SUVs.

Tesla was followed by Hyundai, up by 2.4 points between those years and driven by the latest generation Tucson, and the Palisade. Toyota also gained traction and became the top SUV seller thanks to the popular RAV4, the country’s preferred SUV and the Highlander, the third best-selling SUV.

US SUV top 25 sales by model January to April 2022

The electric SUVs and Trucks to drive growth

This rapid shift from the traditional segments to SUVs and trucks is due to continue in the coming years thanks to the introduction of more electric models. In addition to the Model Y, the Ford Mach E, Hyundai IONIQ 5, Kia EV6, and the coming Chevrolet Equinox EV, Chrysler Airflow and many more should allow this growth to continue.

From the trucks side, the Ford F-150 Lightning, Chevrolet Silverado EV and the coming Ram and Tesla Cybertruck are expected to shake the market too. Will the Americans finally adopt the EV?

The author of the article, Felipe Munoz, is an Automotive Industry Specialist at JATO Dynamics.