The End Of The American Sedan
Published: May 2nd, 2018
By: Joe Angelino

The end of the American sedan

Last week the Ford Motor Company announced they will stop manufacturing their entire car line, except for the Mustang. While that soaks into your head, let me remind you this is the same company which perfected the automotive assembly line. Ford gave us such marques as the Model “T” and Model “A” the Galaxie, the Fairlane, the Thunderbird and the venerable land yacht the Crown Victoria – all of them available in four doors. This announcement is akin to Kleenex telling us they will no longer make facial tissues, or Timex will stop making watches.

Ford has decided their concentration of effort will be their trucks and Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), because “that’s what the American people want”. Apparently the people don’t want to drive the Ford Fiesta, or the Fusion, the Focus or the very popular Taurus. Ford says they are even doing away with the hybrid C-Max, a model I never knew existed.

Ford just happens to be the first auto maker to make this announcement as the other US manufacturers are heading, eventually, in the same direction. Ford CEO James Hacket said 70 percent of Ford’s current business is trucks and SUVs. He further predicted by 2020, less than two years away, trucks and SUVs will be nearly 90 percent of their manufacturing. General Motors predicts by 2020 they will be selling 84 percent trucks and SUVs. Chrysler Corp. is a tough nut to crack because they are no longer an American car company, owned by Italy’s Fiat, and they also have the Jeep line that skews numbers toward the SUV.

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If there was a crystal ball for car buyers looking into the future of US full-sized four door sedans, you will probably gaze upon Cadillacs, Lincolns, the Chevy Impala and the Dodge Charger, which some may remember began life as a 60’s two door muscle car. If the trend of the American buyer is toward larger vehicles the price of gasoline appears to of be no concern. Ford is betting their popular F150 half-ton truck will still be popular with Texas cowboys when that truck is powered by a hybrid engine while Chevrolet is wishing they never ceased production of their hybrid Tahoe and half-ton Silverado in 2013.

The memory of the gasoline price spike of 2006-2008 is still fresh in many of our minds, but apparently not so for the auto company executives. At that point in fuel history, gasoline went over $5.00 per gallon and auto dealer lots were full of unwanted pick-up trucks. The world is a volatile and unpredictable place to place all of your eggs in the big-vehicle-basket, particularly so when there are no small vehicles in your fleet to fall back upon.

It appears the US auto makers have conceded the four door sedan market to foreign companies. An informal glance around my city neighborhood revealed ALL four door sedan “cars” were from overseas; Subaru, Toyota, Audi, Honda and Kia with the remaining vehicles in sight pickup trucks or SUVs. It is hard to believe no one on my street has an Impala, once an American icon.

The generation of people who grew up riding in “mom’s soccer van” is now buying the cross-over style of car that combines the SUV and the mini-van. It is sad they will never know the joy of an American car with four doors with a thick “B” pillar between them and the soon to be forgotten trunk in the back. Even sadder is the follow on generations of police officers who will never drive a patrol “car”. For more than thirty years I got paid to drive American made four door sedans. Starting in the late 70’s as a deputy sheriff I was lucky to pilot a big-block V8 Dodge around the county from 5:00 pm – 1:00 am, returning to the station around 10:00 pm for more fuel to offset the eight miles per gallon fuel consumption.

For over a century the US made four door sedan has hauled people comfortably three-across the front seat and three-across the back seat. At times, it was possible to haul three in the trunk if the drive-in movie was good enough to risk the “mobster’s last ride” position. Thousands of children rode millions of miles on family road trips in the backseat, well within dad’s striking range when some highway discipline was needed. Another fading memory is the family’s youngest child being told to take a nap by lying on the rear window shelf. You served us well four door sedans; go now to rest next to your station wagon cousins.