When auto executives think about designing their products for the future, they take a lot of different things into consideration. But as the auto industry is poised to quite possibly stumble for the first time in years, Bloomberg is calling out automakers for overlooking a very important variable impacting the market and that’s – wait for it – paddle boarding.
A recent look at today’s buyers-under-40 is showing some interesting trends relating to the outdoor gear market and the rise of ‘wellness’ activities – the results of which have Bloomberg asserting that America’s “want” for SUVs and crossovers has turned into a “need.”
Now back to paddle boarding. The sport has exploded in popularity, increasing by 61 percent in the past three years, but guess what – you can’t fit a paddle or a board in a Jetta. Nor can you fit a mountain bike or a kayak or any of the other large gear required for the fastest growing outdoor sports, which are playing an increasingly large role in the lives of American consumers. In fact, nearly half of those over the age of 6 in the U.S. participate in at least one outdoor activity.
The report suggests that Fiat Chrysler nailed this trend when it introduced the Jeep Renegade in 2014, which was panned by critics, all while being purchased in droves by consumers who want to get groceries and also take it off-road or tow one of the 270,000 new boats purchased last year. And the report suggests that, because of all this, the SUV-to-sedan ratio will continue to shift: only one in three vehicles sold in 2016 was a traditional car, but you might see that gap only widen in the near future.