The 2019 New York International Auto Show media days are April 17 and April 18, 2019; here IHS Markit previews reveal expectations. Mirroring the market, there remains a bias toward utility vehicle introductions, though there remain notable passenger car reveals planned. Though there always remains room for surprises, known NYIAS reveals include at least six new utility vehicles and five new cars. In addition, automakers are introducing minor changes to some models and new variants and trim levels for others.
The emphasis on special editions and trim levels reflects the importance of New York as a consumer show with impact on near-term sales. Though there can be exceptions, the show is not typically home to broader brand statements. Many of the cars and utility vehicles due for launch serve to evolve brand positioning rather than revolutionize it.
The New York designated market area (DMA), a measure used in the advertising and marketing industries, typically sees the highest number of light-vehicle registrations in the US, followed only by the Los Angeles DMA. The region is also the largest area for luxury vehicle registrations, ensuring that most luxury brands look to create some excitement. In 2018, 6.7% of total US registrations were in the New York DMA; further, 12.3% of total luxury registrations in 2018 were in the New York DMA.
Along with all-new products from Cadillac, Hyundai (OTCPK:HYMLF), Subaru, Toyota (NYSE:TM) and Nissan (OTCPK:NSANY), there are new trim packages and minor updates on a plethora of vehicles. The Audi R8 and TT RS each take a minor refresh; the Fiat 124 Spyder adds a new cosmetic package called Urbana Edition; Ford (NYSE:F) puts the Focus RS engine under the hood of the Mustang; a recent facelift for the Jaguar XE takes its North American debut; and Acura announces new packages for TLX and MDX which may evolve into a more substantial sub-brand in the future. While Mercedes-Benz (OTCPK:DDAIF) will put most of its NYIAS effort toward utility vehicles, the brand will also display Mercedes-AMG versions of the latest CLA and A-Class. Nissan is celebrating 50 years of Z and GT-R, while Ford is honoring the 55th anniversary of the Mustang, and has promised more news to come.
Cadillac is replacing the CTS and the ATS with this CT5 and a new sedan due to be revealed later in 2020, the CT4. Along with bringing the Escala touch to Cadillac sedans, the CT5 will be expected to assist in repositioning the brand's sedan lineup, as it moves from four offerings to three. The CT5 is expected to have a more significant impact on Cadillac's sales in China than in the US. In the US, the CT5 will continue to meet the demand for buyers interested in this size sedan, while in China the vehicle offers opportunity to continue bringing new customers to the brand. By 2023, about 77% of CT5 annual sales will be in China and only 23% in the US.
Though the New York unveiling of Hyundai Sonata the second sighting of the sedan, following a Seoul Motor Show reveal, this is where we expect to see US specifications revealed. Sonata is taking adjacent billing to the Hyundai Venue small CUV at New York, though the Sonata is forecast to provide more volume for Hyundai than the entry-level CUV. However, the new generation is forecast to continue to decline on market conditions and consumer trends. With a change in expectations for volume and a market where utility vehicles have become the default, there is room for more expressive sedans. Against this backdrop, the Sonata is more expressive than the outgoing car, more dramatic inside and out, with a bold, premium look. The sedan ushers in a new design language for Hyundai, called Sensuous Sportiness and introduced in the 2018 Geneva concept Le Fil Rouge and use a new platform that is lighter, stronger and more efficient than the outgoing platform; new technology will include a smartphone digital car key application.
Toyota and Mazda are working together on several projects, and among them is Mazda supplying Toyota with the Yaris sedan. At NYIAS, Toyota is showing a new Mazda-supplied Yaris hatchback. The hatchback is based on the Mazda2 and produced by Mazda in Mexico, as is the Yaris iA sedan. Mazda does not offer the Mazda2 in the US. The Yaris hatchback is not a high-volume seller for Toyota in the US, but provides an entry-level alternative and gateway to the brand. Working with Mazda, Toyota has an efficient option for continuing to participate in the segment.
Subaru will reveal the Outback at NYIAS and shared a teaser photo, with further details due on 17 April. There is every expectation that it will, at a minimum, mirror powertrain and features of the Legacy sedan introduced at the Chicago auto show in February. This is expected to include more interior technology, including a large center-stack screen, a format is being offered in an increasing number of vehicles and segments, after Tesla and Volvo broke ground in this area. Subaru's Outback has been the brand's highest-volume product since 2016, though the Forester is close behind. In 2018, the Outback and Forester combined provided 51.5% of Subaru's US sales. The Outback is forecast to see some sales slide, largely on market conditions, but retain its significance to Subaru's US lineup.
Nissan revealed the Versa sedan the week before the New York show, at a music festival in Florida. The clever move ensured the car was unveiled before its target audience, with an opportunity to generate viral buzz from attendees. The vehicle is expected to be on display in New York as well. The new Versa takes a more expressive exterior and better stance, looking less awkward and taking cues from its larger sedan siblings. It is lower, wider and longer than the outgoing car. The equipment package is geared toward maximizing features while minimizing price, as this vehicle is expected to continue its role as an entry to the Nissan brand. Though overall market conditions and the transition to utility vehicles are impacting sales of cars in Versa's class, IHS Markit forecasts Versa will see US sales remain above 52,000 units per year through 2022, compared with the most recent high point of nearly 96,000 units in 2016.
Two of the highest-volume products due for introduction at 2019 NYIAS are the Toyota Highlander and Ford Escape, while the Lincoln Corsair, Mercedes-Benz GLS and Hyundai Venue are notable as well. Other utility vehicle news will include the first US showing of the Mercedes-Benz GLC facelift and the GLC Coupe facelift. Volkswagen will show a version of the Atlas outfitted with aftermarket parts meant to demonstrate the Atlas with an active lifestyle orientation, and will show its Geneva dune-buggy concept.
Against the backdrop of preference for utility vehicles, Hyundai is replacing the Accent with a CUV, and it is calling it Venue. Hyundai positions the Venue to offer a transition from urban workweek to active weekends, with a design described as "playful." Whether optional or standard, Hyundai will ensure a strong level of safety and connectivity features. The Venue is smaller than Hyundai's Kona and will offer a utility vehicle truly at the entry level. The last full year the Accent hatchback was available was in 2017, with 15,146 units sold. IHS Markit forecasts the small CUV see US sales in the range of 18,000 to 19,000 units and serve to offer an entry product in the more popular shape of a utility vehicle. Though a low-volume proposition in the Hyundai range, it will be significant for introducing entry-level buyers to Hyundai utility vehicles.
The top of Mercedes utility vehicle range is new for 2020, with a New York introduction for the GLS. The vehicle is single-sourced from Mercedes' Vance, Alabama, plant, and in 2018, saw 47% of sales in North America and 37% in China. In the US, GLS provided about 12% of Mercedes US sales in 2018. The GLS moves to the MHA platform, shared with the GLE, and adapts the latest in the Mercedes toolkit. MHA also shares components with the MRA large-car platform, though with different build processes to support the larger bulkhead structure required by the larger utilities. The GLS is the S-Class of Mercedes-Benz SUVs, which means it will be sumptuous, powerful and highly engineered--and expected to be highly profitable.
Toyota has revealed only an artistic representation of the new Highlander so far, building up expectations for one of the highest-volume introductions at this year's NYIAS. Highlander will need to fend off a series of new three-row utility vehicles in 2019 and 2020, including all-new Ford Explorer, Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride. In a story similar to Toyota's presence in the mid-size pick-up truck segment, Highlander is forecast to retain its position as one of the best-selling vehicles in the US mid-size CUV segment, though share may be affected by new segment entries. IHS Markit forecasts that Toyota's share of the US mid-size CUV segment will drop from 11% in 2018 to about 9% in 2023.
Porsche Cayenne Coupe
Following the cue set by Mercedes-Benz and BMW (OTCPK:BMWYY), Porsche (OTCPK:POAHF) has added a coupe-roof variant of the Cayenne. With details announced a few weeks before the show, the vehicle is expected to be on display. However, Porsche is also rumoured to be revealing a production 911 Speedster as well. The Cayenne Coupe prioritises sport and is intended to act as a bit of a halo for the Cayenne range; it comes to market with more standard equipment than the Cayenne as well as more style.
Ford Escape and Lincoln Corsair
Ford revealed the Escape on 2 April, though is expected to display the vehicle at NYIAS. The Escape is related to the Lincoln Corsair, which will take a bow at the NYIAS, and replace the MKC when it arrives on market. Like the current MKC, the Corsair is forecast to provide as much as 25% of Lincoln's US sales in the coming years. Lincoln has become increasingly successful in offering models that share with Ford counterparts, but are differentiated enough for their own personality. The expectation is for a similar situation with Corsair. Lincoln has come to New York with a strong presence for the past several years, including introducing the concepts for Aviator, Navigator and Continental at the event.
Editor's Note: The summary bullets for this article were chosen by Seeking Alpha editors.