Despite burgeoning sales of crossovers and a recent uptick in demand for hatchbacks, market research firm IHS Automotive is predicting that the station wagon market will remain marginal through 2020. In 2015, the format attracted just 1.1 percent of total vehicle sales.
The demand for station wagons peaked in the 1970’s, with deliveries reaching 972,212 units in 1976, a 10 percent share of total sales.
At that time, automakers offered 62 wagons but as Ford, General Motors and Chrysler gradually abandoned the segment, only 44 models remained by 1995. By 2004 that number once again dropped to 26 options and currently stands at eight.
Among the current crop of wagons, the Subaru Outback captured 81 percent of sales in 2015, delivering 152,294 units. Other entries in the segment include the Fiat 500L, Ford Flex, Kia Soul, Lincoln MKT, Mini Countryman and Toyota Prius V.
Industry analysts maintain that as SUVs and crossovers experience explosive growth, wagons have adopted similar traits and now occupy a space that is simply indistinguishable to many consumers.
“Station wagons have morphed into small crossovers and the line between the two isn’t a lot,” says Jessica Caldwell, an Edmunds senior analyst.
The remaining wagons that appeal to purists tend to also be available through factory orders rather than off-the-lot. More often than not, that means that wagons are overlooked in favor of other options.