Crossover Utility Vehicles Dethrone Cars

Red crossover utility vehicle (CUV).

A recent report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that the market share of Crossover Utility Vehicles (CUVs) has increased. This growth has resulted in a lower percentage of cars comprising the light-duty vehicle sector. These changes have occurred even as gas prices have increased over the last two years. In every month since September 2017, sales of CUVs have exceeded those of cars.

CUVs are built on more fuel-efficient, car-based platforms with miles-per-gallon ratings slightly lower than comparable cars. Although CUVs and cars are built on similar platforms, CUVs often have slightly lower fuel economy even when they are designed to use the same transmission and engine. 

However, the change in vehicle buying patterns over the last two years had less effect on total fuel consumption when compared with other historical shifts in sales, such as the move from cars to SUVs in the 1990s and early 2000s. Similarly, the increased fuel cost accompanying CUVs hasn’t impacted purchasing trends as they did when consumers looked to transition from SUVs to cars and CUVs during the peak of the recession in 2009. 

At that time, replacing a 20-MPG vehicle with a 30-MPG vehicle would save 250 gallons annually when driven 15,000 miles. This translated to cost savings ranging from $500 ($2/gallon) to $1,000 ($4/gallon). Using those same parameters, transitioning from a 35-MPG sedan to a 30-MPG CUV translates to a difference of 71 gallons of gas and cost savings ranging from $143 to $285 annually.


Image Credit: Philip Pilosian/

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