According to Automotive News, sales of sports cars are down almost 10% this year. Even the iconic Chevrolet Corvette, with is super swoopy space age syling, is suffering a sales decline of nearly 14% so far this year. Mustang and Camaro sales are down. Sales of the iconic Porsche 911 are off by 7%. The awesome new Acura NSX is finding few takers.
It seems the whole world has gone made for SUVs and (in the American market) trucks. Sedans, wagons, and sports cars are getting shoved aside in favor of roomy all purpose vehicles with all wheel drive and enough cargo space to haul kids, strollers, kayaks, and bicycles. Part of the fascination with SUVs is their high stance that lets drivers and passengers look down upon lesser mortals in their Civics and Corollas. What I call the Mount Olympus syndrome has its limitations, however. Once everyone drives an SUV, the height advantage will cancel itself out.
Changes in perception also affect the demand for sports cars. The focus is on self driving cars, car sharing, hide hailing, and artificial intelligence. The idea of rowing up and down through the gearbox just doesn’t appeal to many people anymore. Many younger people report they aren’t that interested in owing an automobile at all. Our roads are more congested than ever. In order to truly enjoy a high performance car today, it is necessary to become a member of private motorsports park. Hooning around on public roads is frowned upon.
Every new car company feels compelled to create a supercar — a vehicle with such prodigious performance that it will knock the socks off anyone who drives it. The competition to create the fastest, most amazing car the world has ever seen has made the word “supercar” itself passé. Now the next level in performance is embodied in what are called hypercars — vehicles like the Rimac Concept One with more than a thousand horsepower on tap, just waiting to be unleashed by tromping on the go pedal. These cars are highly prized by the “more money than brains” crowd not because of their unmatched performance — which can never be used in real world driving — but because they convey some sort of “my car cost more than your car” status. For the kind of driving actual people do, such cars are a pointless exercise that borders on the absurd.