Our Cross to Bear: More Reasons CUVs Are Our Destiny

I was talking to a peer about how I’ve run tires longer than most CEOs have run Hyundai when I mentioned that Hyundai doesn’t make utility vehicles. They of course called me out because there are new Santa Fes and Tucsons everywhere, some without rental stickers! I asked them how many sizes of SUVs should an automaker offer. They replied with, “Zero... but four tops!” I laughed, but it wasn’t at the joke. Oppo, when it comes fighting and jokes I never pull my punch lines.

Ahem...

Advertisement

When it came to sedans it was easy to view them as small, medium, and large. Maybe you find an extra small or an extra large here or there but you were looking at three to five sizes consistently expected from any brand. Now some of you may be aware that clothing comes in far more sizes than those! Hey, in the US our food is portioned as Kids, Small, Medium, Large, “Branded” Large, and Buffet (aka, Unlimited/Freedom/’Murica). With that in mind, why wouldn’t our vehicles match?

The thing about Utility Vehicles is that the increase in interior height allows for seats to be higher off the floor, which means a more upright seating position. You have heard that term before but now consider how much that changes perceived interior seating space. Reclined positions decrease needed headroom but raise needed legroom, while upright positions increase needed headroom and decrease needed legroom. Which one of these is going to be the most advantageous for creating interior seating space (for multiple occupants) within a small cabin?

Due to seating we now have compact CUVs with as much perceived legroom as midsize sedans all while being cheaper than that car and better equipped than the comparable class size of sedan. What this means is that you can now size your vehicles by the perceived cabin legroom size AND the vehicle foot print! Thus instead of sedan lineups as such:

  • Subcompact Interior - Subcompact Footprint - Subcompact Pricing
  • Compact Interior - Compact Footprint - Compact Pricing
  • Midsize Interior - Midsize Footprint - Midsize Pricing
  • Fullsize Interior - Fullsize Footprint - Fullsize Pricing

You end up with the following for CUVs:

  • Subcompact Interior - Sub-Subcompact Footprint - Subcompact Pricing
  • Subcompact Interior - Subcompact Footprint - Subcompact Pricing
  • Compact Interior - Subcompact Footprint - Compact Pricing
  • Compact Interior - Compact Footprint - Compact Pricing
  • Midsize Interior - Compact Footprint - Midsize Pricing
  • Midsize Interior - Midsize Footprint - Midsize Pricing
  • Fullsize Interior - Midsize Footprint - Fullsize Pricing
  • Fullsize Interior - Fullsize Footprint - Fullsize Pricing

Oh, and these keep going since you can add rows until bus driver think you need counseling. If the pricing is a class larger than the vehicle then you have a luxury product, and the inverse would be a bargain. If the interior is perceived to be any class size below the footprint then you have something “sporty.” I’m sure you all get the picture.

Advertisement

My point is, within this basic layout of consumer offerings, your three-five sizes of sedans is expanded to 6-10 sizes of Utility Vehicles without pushing the boundaries of your pricing structure. All while having an inherit value perception built into the system for the consumer which means you can sell the same class twice. In this way, your three sizes of Hyundai crossovers isn’t even halfway through the “standard” lineup that should be offered. That’s like a pizza shop that only sells the dough, bro! You can’t make dough on just dough, you need chesee to make the real cheddah!

Advertisement

What you all will start seeing are more CUVs being referred to as “tweener” -sized. Youll look at lineups such as the Jeep Renegade, Jeep Cherokee, and Jeep Grand Cherokee. You’ll think, “Subcompact, Compact, Midsize.” Then they’ll throw a Compass at you and you’ll be disoriented. Now you’re thinking “Subcompact, Small Compact, Large Compact, Midsize.” Then they’ll put real carpeting in the Wrangler Unlimited and then you’re checking the tag on your shirt and the tag on that Jeep to see if both are now Extra-Mediums.

Oppo, what I’m saying is that you couldn’t have two of the same sized sedans from the same brand at the same pricing. At least this was true before Mercedes started making the CLS. However you can have two same sized CUVs for relatively the same price from the same automaker and they will be different vehicles. So don’t be surprised when Nissan’s lineup is Juke-Kickz, Qashqai-Rogue, Murano-Pathfinder, Armada-Armada XL. Everyone will be heading this direction!

Advertisement

Not scared yet?

Advertisement

Here’s a refresher of what I said was standard for commodity brand CUVs:

  • Subcompact Interior - Sub-Subcompact Footprint - Subcompact Pricing
  • Subcompact Interior - Subcompact Footprint - Subcompact Pricing
  • Compact Interior - Subcompact Footprint - Compact Pricing
  • Compact Interior - Compact Footprint - Compact Pricing
  • Midsize Interior - Compact Footprint - Midsize Pricing
  • Midsize Interior - Midsize Footprint - Midsize Pricing
  • Fullsize Interior - Midsize Footprint - Fullsize Pricing
  • Fullsize Interior - Fullsize Footprint - Fullsize Pricing

If you make the interior class sizes smaller than the footprint class sizes then you have the current use of the word “coupe.” The interior has been cut down in order to adjust the exterior. You can’t properly “sport” if youre upright! Why do you think people never make car noises while sitting on an airplane?!! No leg room to hit that heel and toe, bro!

Advertisement

*Seriously, is it just me? That would explain all the rev hang...

Of course luxury brands have the added benefit of being able to adjust the pricings to be above the class size of the interior and exterior. I hope you’re starting to infer all the permutations. Oh, and don’t forget that off-road focused SUVs are a separate market from on-road focused SUVs...

Advertisement

...

...

Nah, I’m just messing with you! There are limits, but in general you can always offer twice as many Utility Vehicles as sedans. That’s where your market dominance comes from.

Advertisement

Sooo...still not scared?

...

...

...

Advertisement

Lifting your sedan and wagon is now a thing as well! Luckily the roofline is lower so they’ll follow sedan permutations instead of Utility Vehicle permutations.

Can we have too much variety? My opinion, no! Just ignore what you dont like and the world becomes a much smaller or more manageable place! Plus, is there any reason vehicles shouldn’t have the same wide range of choices as fashion, accessories, electronics, appliances, homes, food, insurance, and casinos? Heck, I have more variety of gas octanes at the pump than Hyundai has CUVs!

Share This Story