AS SPORTS CAR sales languish in slow economic times, the VFACTS sales data for August – the latest available to us at the time of print – reveal SUVs might be the reason why companies still produce sports cars at all.

Lamborghini, for instance, has praised the Urus for doubling global sales in the first half of 2019 compared to last year. It has experienced a similar success story here in Australia, as the Urus boosted local sales by 15 per cent over the first eight months of this year. Meanwhile, its coupe and convertibles sales have dropped considerably.

Porsche has also increased its reliance on SUVs. The new Cayenne (up some 80 per cent on 2018) and refreshed Macan account for 77 per cent of its sales so far this year. Overall sales have grown 7.0 per cent even as Panamera, 718 Cayman and 718 Boxster results soften.

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan has also doubled the brand’s sales performance, helping it register 38 sales so far this year. That’s almost double the 20, 22, and 19 units it sold in the previous three years respectively.

The SUV portfolios of Lexus, Bentley and Jaguar have also helped them beat last year’s year-to-date sales figures in the face of weakening sedan and coupe results.

SUVs have not been able to save everyone, but they’ve slowed what otherwise would have been drastic falls. Take Alfa Romeo, whose sales have fallen 43 per cent while the Stelvio remains virtually unaffected (with 218 selling up until August compared to 222 last year).

The data reveals SUVs have provided most niche marques better protection in economic cycles. And this may be the difference between sports cars sticking around or disappearing for a generation. – LC