Study: car evolution trends

Car classification in Europe is not officially regulated, instead, it is defined in relative size with other cars.

Today the average lifetime of a car model is 6 years for compact and medium cars and 8 years for mini and luxury cars. Is normal for cars to grow over years, as technology advance and more gadgets should be included under body, but in Europe since 1990s, the cars are growing crazy with about 10-20 cm per model change, which is exaggerate, based on technology evolution, 5 mm per year is enough. This non-natural grow causes companies to abandon large models and introduce new smaller models below existing models.

Some brands do not follow the common class sizes, making cars with intermediate sizes, these are usually considered being part of the smaller class, causing further increase in size of car classes.

Seems that all European companies wants to make a car bigger than competitor’s cars of same class. This leads to 2 cm / year increase in average car length in each class. The cars get fatter also in width, this is an issue for parking design, since in most countries the parking lots are 2.5 m width, most compact cars were under 1.7 m width in 1998 but since 2008 most are over 1.8 m.

Evolution of American cars 1990-2020

After I copied all cars specifications from Edmunds into Excel format, I analyzed it to show you how American cars evolved over past 30 years. I calculated using AVERAGEIFS formulas, breakdown by domestic and imported cars. Charts made at 22 September 2019 update with 58480 cars (model trims). You can buy Excel database: Year-Make-Model-Trim-Specs.

For example average engine size rose from 3.33 L in 1990 to 4.09 L in 2007 then dropped to 3.36 L in 2019 due to introduction of turbochargers that allowed downsizing engines, meantime horsepower rose from 142 HP in 1990 to 294 HP in 2019. In 2019 domestic cars averaged 316 HP vs imported cars 279 HP. Cars also grew in terms of external dimensions, but the increase in weight was most significant.

Evolution of European cars 1970-2020

After I copied all cars specifications from German automobile club into Excel format, I analyzed it to show you how cars sold in Germany evolved over past 50 years (this analysis apply for whole Europe, 99% of cars sold in Europe are also sold in Germany). I calculated using AVERAGEIFS formulas. Charts made at 18 September 2019 update with 122214 model versions. You can buy Excel database: German Car Database.