For more than a decade high-riding SUVs have been on the rise at the expense of the traditional sedan, but now the emergence of the electric vehicle could change that.
Sales of sedans have plummeted over the past decade, with several once-popular models – like the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon – now dropped due to a lack of customer demand.
As the likes of the Commodore, Falcon and Toyota Camry have faded in popularity as SUVs take over, now the surge in EVs and the need for more aerodynamic body shapes are meaning the sedan is likely to survive longer than originally anticipated.
At least that's the view of Daniel Guzzafame, head of product planning for Alfa Romeo, who believes the need to maximise range and save weight will see a shift back to sedan, or at least sedan-like vehicles, such as the Tesla Model 3 and Hyundai Ioniq 6.
“I think with BEV there is a future for what you'd call ‘low cars' by the simple fact of aerodynamics,” Guzzafame told Torquecafe. “If you are in normal customer use, the aerodynamics, the drag, is accounting for two-thirds of the energy you spend… So the lower you can be, coupled with the better you can be in drag coefficient can get you there. The short answer is – yes.”
But Guzzafame said the sedan as we know it will still change though, with higher seating positions and more spacious cabins a likely consequence of the switch to electrification.
“If you think of the sedan of 15 years ago conceptually it's very different to what the world thinks of as a sedan now. If you categorise the [Tesla] Model 3, which everybody thinks of as a sedan, it's a very different car to the sedan of 15 years ago. The seating position is much higher, there's much more room around you, the feeling of space. The practicality is different. Ingress and egress, because of the seating point, is different. Those are the things that people will most probably want.”
Alfa Romeo is due to launch an all-electric replacement for its Giulia sedan by 2026, but despite Guzzafame's faith in the longevity of the traditional body style, the Italian brand also has a range of electric SUVs planned, including the just-launched Tonale, an all-new compact model coming in 2024 and likely a large SUV to take on the BMW iX and Audi Q8 e-tron by 2027.