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U.S. light vehicle market to see more product launches in 2018, IHS Markit says

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 - 09:00
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Automakers are expected to launch about 75 new models in 2018; contrasting with about 53 in 2017 and an expected 56 in 2019, according to IHS Markit forecasts.

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IHS Markit has reviewed expected major new-product launches from 2017 through 2019. IHS Markit finds an expected spike in launch activity for 2018 compared with 2017.

IHS Markit forecasts about 75 new models will see market sales launch throughout the calendar year. The new vehicles launched in 2018 are forecast to account for about 3.09 million units of volume in 2019—when each will have been on market for a full year.

IHS Markit has reviewed expected new model launches from 2017 through 2019. Counting model/bodystyle as unique launches, though not in this report include facelifts, minor model changes or powertrain updates. This approach reflects that some variations are arriving in different calendar years, and provides a broader window into overall product launch activity. While a new bodystyle is an extension of the project, there are some distinct marketing and logistics launch activities behind the introduction of each.

As largely can be expected, the SUV bodytype (including both crossover and sport utility vehicles) will see the most activity in 2018, as was true in 2017 and is projected to remain true for the next several years. Automakers continue to adjust their product offerings to be in better alignment with consumer demands. In 2018, IHS Markit projects 45 percent of the expected 75 new-model introductions will center on SUV products. Of the 34 SUVs forecast to see market launch in 2018, 18 are nameplates new to the market, while the other 16 are updates to known products (nameplates available for sale at least in 2016). By comparison, 40% of the new model launches in 2017 were SUVs; 6 were new nameplates and 17 existing products took updates. IHS Markit expects 21 percent of launch activity relative to sedan nameplates in 2018--14 existing and 2 additive products—up from 14 percent of 2017 launch activity. While sedans continue to make up a significant volume in the market, activity is highly focused in the SUV space.

Market launches for top 4 automakers: GM, Ford Motor Company, Toyota, FCA

At an automaker level, IHS Markit projects that General Motors will see introduction of 4 new models in 2018, compared with 6 in 2017. Two are all-new pickup trucks, in the form of Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. In terms of profit and volume, these two are key to GM’s North American performance. The Silverado is taking a full introduction at the 2018 North American International Auto Show, following a tease in December 2017. The other two introductions include—finally—a new SUV for Cadillac, as the XT4 is expected to see sales launch in third quarter of 2018. The XT4 will be based on GM’s Epsilon platform, variations of which are used for several sedans, including Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Malibu. IHS Markit forecasts the new premium compact CUV will be produced at the company’s plant in Fairfax, Kansas, United States plant first, with production in China also forecast to start by the end of 2018. Along with the XT4, in early 2018, Buick’s Regal TourX arrives in dealerships. With this generation of Regal, GM has opted to offer hatchback and wagon bodytypes, leaving the sedan for China only. Given that sales of utility vehicles have continued to increase at the expense of sedans, this move is expected to provide stronger legs for the model. GM is forecast to see significantly more product activity in 2019. Among the vehicles IHS Markit forecasts will see sales launch in 2019 include a EV in utility vehicle form using the Chevrolet Bolt EV platform, likely for the Buick brand; an all-new Buick Encore SUV; new-generation Chevrolet Corvette, Silverado HD, and Blazer SUV. In 2019, Cadillac will see an additional CUV, as well as new versions of CTS and ATS, due to be renamed CT5 and CT4, respectively.

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