Many of Fiat-Chrysler's biggest successes have been SUVs in recent years, evidenced by the growth of its Jeep brand.
"Virtually eliminating Ford's NA car portfolio makes a lot of sense, in our view," said Adam Jonas, an analyst at Morgan Stanley. "No more Fusion. No more Focus. No more Fiesta. No more Taurus."
GM still makes quite a few cars. For now, Chevrolet alone still sells somewhere around 12 car models if you count Corvette, although there have been rumors and news it will cut or end production of at least some of those. Buick has some sedans and a crossover that looks a lot like a wagon, and Cadillac has so many sedans industry observers and dealers say it missed the crossover trend.
And despite the fact that American companies are reshaping their lineups, sedans will still form a substantial portion of the vehicles sold in the U.S. for the foreseeable future.
"Although passenger car segments have declined over the last number of years, they are still very important," GM's Stevens said Thursday. "Small cars are important internationally, and they still make up a chunk of sales in the United States."
But crossover sales were largely what drove GM's earnings beat on Thursday, and the automaker's income was down because it had spent a lot of time retooling its factories — to build more trucks. Buick's best-selling model is the subcompact Encore crossover, and Cadillac's biggest debut this year has been the XT4, a model the company is making to finally catch up with rivals already in the luxury crossover segment.
Throughout the rest of 2018, GM's crossover sales should be strong enough to support margins despite costs from new truck launches, CFRA analyst Efraim Levy said in a note Thursday.
By 2022, almost 73 percent of all consumer vehicle sales in the United States are expected to be utility vehicles of some sort, and about 27 percent will be cars, according to auto industry forecasting firm LMC Automotive.
By that same time, LMC automotive expects 84 percent of GM's U.S. sales volume will be SUVs, crossover and trucks. Ford will be at 90 percent, and Chrysler at 97 percent.
So sedans and other cars are expected to still form more than a quarter of all consumer vehicle sales in the U.S., but the overall trend appears to be that American companies especially are giving up trying to sell cars to Americans.
What will they sell instead?
Detroit is already strong in pickups and large SUVs, such as the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator, which is enjoying remarkably brisk sales after its first complete redesign in more than a decade. The Big 3 control almost 85 percent of the domestic pickup market, according to LMC Automotive, despite competitive products from foreign brands such as Toyota and Nissan.
And Ford, for example, will also double down on "authentic off-roaders," Ford President of Global Markets Jim Farley said on a conference call Wednesday, after Ford reported first-quarter earnings. This includes trucks like the Raptor, and the upcoming reintroduced Ford Bronco, and an unnamed SUV. GM and Chrysler are entering this segment, too.