Could the predicted expansion of the U.S. hatchback market mean that its dowdier cousin, the station wagon, is also on its way back?
Efficiency-minded manufacturers would love to see some extra wagon action in the U.S., to help them spread out the costs of developing them for Europe, where wagons and hatchbacks remain popular. But despite their very American pedigree, station wagons are proving highly resistible to U.S. consumers, who are migrating en masse from sedans to crossovers and SUVs, without a stop in between.
Analyst IHS Automotive predicts the wagon market will remain a mere blip on the charts for the long term. Last year wagons captured just 1.1 percent of total U.S. sales. IHS believes that share will still be stuck there in 2020.
And yet, some auto-makers aren't giving up. Devout wagon seller Volvo is the latest to say it will launch a new wagon in the U.S., a V90 version of its upcoming S90 sedan. The five-door goes on sale next year and will go up against the replacement for the Mercedes E-class wagon arriving in December.
Meanwhile Volvo's raised V90 Cross Country version will rival the smaller A4-based Audi Allroad.
"In many people's minds we are known as the definitive estate [wagon] brand," Volvo Car Group CEO Hakan Samuelsson said in a statement explaining the decision back in February.
Despite Volvo's strong background in the segment, the brand has set a very low bar for sales -- just 1,000 a year, V90 U.S. product manager Anders Robertson told Automotive News in June. By comparison, Volvo hopes to sell 15,000 S90 sedans a year.