Consumers' growing love affair with "crossover" vehicles that combine the functionality and cachet of sport utility vehicles with the comfort and performance of a car shows no signs of abating with Germany's Porsche unveiling the compact luxury Macan.
Porsche is just the latest in the global automotive industry to pile on more crossovers as it showed off its fifth model, including its second crossover, at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, Ford Motor Co, which has numerous sport utility and crossover models in its lineup, was scheduled to introduce a design concept of its Edge on Wednesday that hints at the look of future versions of that mid-sized crossover.
"This is not a specialty product anymore. This is a core, mainstream body style," Ford's global marketing chief, Jim Farley, said of crossovers like the Edge concept.
Crossovers' advantages include their prestige imagery, the functionality of the interior and the ability of drivers to sit above the traffic and have a commanding view of the road, he said.
The SUV craze really started with the Jeep Cherokee in the mid-1980s and then accelerated when Ford introduced the Explorer in the early 1990s. But the car-based Lexus RX300, introduced in the U.S. market in 1998, took the industry in a new direction, Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Karl Brauer said.
With a smoother ride, more amenities and better fuel mileage than truck-based SUVs, the new crossovers eventually overtook even minivans and wagons as the family vehicle of choice, he said.
Crossover sales in the United States have risen from just over 2 million vehicles in 2008 to an estimated 3.9 million this year, according to research firm LMC Automotive. And with almost 70 new or redesigned models debuting in the next four years, that number should top 4.2 million sales in 2017.
The industry is seeing the continued refinement of the segment and the push deeper into premium, analysts said.
Land Rover introduced its Evoque and Jaguar announced its intention to enter the game with its C-X17. Both brands are owned by India's Tata Motors. And companies already there like BMW AG, Daimler AG's Mercedes and Volkswagen AG's Audi brand are expanding their crossover lineups. [ID: nL2N0H11ZH]
"We have evolved into a society that loves our utilitarian vehicles, but we want them as car-like as possible," Brauer said. "These crossovers, be they mid-sized