America's historic consumer shift away from cars is a done deal, right?
Sedans have slipped from about 50 percent of the U.S. market six years ago to roughly 30 percent in 2018 — and below 30 percent in August.
So who is talking about a sedan resurgence? Well, there's Denis Le Vot.
The spirited Frenchman who became chairman of Nissan North America in January is convinced cars can make a comeback, and his beliefs underscore Nissan's product strategy — at least in the U.S.
"We think 30 percent is the bottom," he told Automotive News last week.
Le Vot's logic: Market factors will bring consumers back to the segment.
"Market intelligence is telling us that Generation Z's favorite body style is sedans," Le Vot said. "The big wheel is turning."
He says higher interest rates will push many price-sensitive buyers back out of more expensive crossovers and SUVs.
It's a comeback scenario little heard throughout the industry. The Ford brand said this year it will end all of its cars except for the iconic Mustang and a new Focus Active. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has phased out the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 to focus on Jeeps and pickups.
Le Vot said the new Altima is the first in a wave of sedans coming from Nissan over the next two years, and all of them stand to grow.
"This is just the start," he said of the Altima makeover. "By 2020, we're going to be renewing 70 percent of our volume of sales. That is the core sedans, the core crossover and one of the trucks.
"We're really in a new phase of renewing," he said.
The addition of all-wheel drive to the Altima will reassure some buyers who want the safety of an SUV. And rising fuel costs will favor more fuel-efficient sedans, Le Vot said.
He said Nissan stands to increase its conquest in sedans as other brands, including Ford, back away from the shrinking pool.