Wondering Why the Honda Civic Coupe Has to Die? Coupe Market Share Is Down 60 Percent Over the Last Decade

2020 Honda Civic Coupe Sport - Image: HondaThe disappearance of midsize cars, the dismal performance of traditional family sedans, and the eradication of affordable small cars account for the lion’s share of headlines when auto reporters discuss the dwindling American passenger car market. But tucked inside America’s car sector are a handful of fun cars – intentionally impractical two-doors – that muster a mere fraction of the market share they produced just 10 years ago.

In other words, you can’t buy a Honda Accord Coupe or a Kia Forte Koup or a Buick Cascada or a Lexus IS250C in 2020 precisely because buyers of such cars no longer exist in sufficient numbers. Scratch that: buyers of such cars didn’t exist in sufficient numbers when the option was provided to justify offering comparable successors.

How bad is it? We asked J.D. Power’s vice president of data and analytics, Tyson Jominy. And we got answers. 

2005 Honda Civic EX Coupe. - Image: HondaANCIENT HISTORY

Rewind a full decade. Although convertible market share fell by nearly half between 2005 and 2010, coupe market share was actually stronger coming out of the Great Recession than it was in 2005. 4.4 percent of the new vehicles sold (on a retail basis) in the United States in 2010 were coupes. That’s roughly 500,000 sales in 2010.

Coupe options were plentiful in 2010. There were two-door versions of the Ford Focus and Nissan Altima (that you might prefer to forget), as well as genuine performance cars such as the Hyundai Genesis Coupe and Mazda RX-8, and premium options such as the Cadillac CTS Coupe.

2006 Honda Civic Si - Image: HondaRECENT HISTORY

By 2015, two-door versions of the Focus, Altima, and CTS were gone. So was the RX-8. The Genesis Coupe had just one more year. These were far from the only signs of coupe rejection. Buyers were fleeing. The market share of coupes, J.D. Power’s Jominy tells TTAC, had fallen a tick below 3 percent. Convertible market share, meanwhile, collapsed from 2.2 percent to just 0.7 percent over the course of a decade. Were panoramic sunroofs to blame, or was there a much broader anti-car movement at play?

Undoubtedly, America’s shift away from traditional cars played a role in all car segments. But while other bodystyles saw their collective market share decrease by around 15 percent between 2010 and 2015, coupe market share decreased at more than twice that rate.

2015 Honda Civic Coupe red - Image: HondaTODAY

2020’s first-half presented far worse numbers, however — the kind of figures that tell you why Honda isn’t going to bother with a Civic Coupe after the 2020 model year; why Mercedes-Benz is considering the elimination of two-door Cs, Es, and Ss. Coupe market share through the first-half of 2020 is down to just 1.76 percent, Jominy says.

Convertibles? From more than 2 percent in 2005, droptops now own just a quarter of that: 0.54 percent. 15 years ago convertibles were already a narrow niche, claiming 2 out of every 100 light vehicle sales. Now they account for 1 out of every 200 vehicles driven off the dealer lot.

TOMORROW

Making matters worse is the simple math that makes it difficult for a sector of the auto market to bounce back. Use the much larger sedan market as a harbinger. “Sedans were 32 percent of sales in 2015, but today they are 19 percent, year-to-date,” Jominy says. “That 19 percent is comprised of owners returning to market from a time when one-third of vehicles were sedans. Every year, the returning owner base is shrinking so sales are going to continue to wither.”

Fast forward to 2025. How many automakers do you expect will be keen to wait around for today’s loyal base of coupe buyers – certainly a very thin base if ever there was one – to return for another taste?

Fortunately, the fun car exists in four-door form. Quite plentifully, as you can still access cars like the Subaru WRX and Honda Civic Si at very affordable price points. But we should probably stop pretending that two-door legends we know and love are on solid footing.

[Images: Toyota, Honda]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Driving.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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