I’m defining “affordable” as <$30k MSRP.
They can make affordable cars, they don’t really want to. Ford is getting out of the commodity small CUV space, for example. They make a cheap pick up (Maverick) but not very many of them, so they sell at MSRP+.
GM is selling the new Trax small CUV, it’s affordable…and built in S. Korea.
They can’t yet make affordable EVs, not at a profit. But nobody else does, either. Cheapest Tesla is around $40k. Our Chevy Bolt EV was $25k, but there’s no way GM made money on it, even more so after two new traction batteries fitted under warranty.
We just got the kid a Kia Niro hybrid for $30k. There was no equivalent US made vehicle available.
They don’t make small cheap sedans any more - but should they try to? Not every car company has to have “affordable” cars in their lineup. Many of them don’t. Obviously, Mercedes doesn’t make “affordable” cars. The days when it was a necessary business model for a large car company to have a brand extension into every market segment, from the cheapest entry-level vehicle to the most luxurious large sedan, may be gone forever.
Those days are clearly gone. But I do wonder, now that the average car payment is $730/mo, if we do eventually have a recession, what happens? If the economy takes a hit, even a small hit, and 15-30% of the “market” of people able/willing to pay $730/mo disappears, then what? Do those auto companies, at least temporarily, shrink by 15-30%? When those 15-30% buy other models, will they then stick to their new brand? Who knows?
Unclear. It’s a problem that all makers of expensive goods face - an economic downturn makes people more frugal. Sometimes you just have to ride those times out, and cobble together a strategy based on targeted discounts and emphasizing the cheaper end of your existing line. Apple’s not going to suddenly release an “affordable” iPhone, for example, even if the market for $1.2K cell phones shrinks a bit; they’re not in the budget market, and they’re not going to be.