Sales of compact cars in Europe declined 9% in 2018 to just over 2,13 million units, as Europe’s second largest segment now accounts for 13,8% of the total market, down from 15,1% in 2017. That means it is under threat from both the small crossover segment (up 29% to 12,6% share of the market) and the compact crossover segment (up 17% to 11,3% of the market). That also explains the main reason for the decline of the compact car segment: customers deflecting to crossovers. Segment leader Volkswagen Golf slightly improves its share of the segment despite an 8% loss of sales, translating to almost 37.000 lost sales which is about as much as the Mazda3 sold last year. In second place we find the Skoda Octavia for the second straight year with sales down 5%, but it still sells less than half the number of cars of its sibling. Despite being replaced at the very end of the year and thus being in run-out mode with the outgoing model, the Ford Focus manages to reclaim a podium position after spending 2 years in fourth place. That is a result of the Opel/Vauxhall Astra losing 27% of its sales in 2018 after already losing 14% in 2017. The Astra was #2 of the segment in 2016, #3 in 2017 and is now down one more spot, and only 5.000 units ahead of 5th place.
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That 5th place now belongs to the Peugeot 308, one of the most stable models in the top-8 with just a 2% decline as PSA was well prepaired for the introduction of the WLTP standards and didn’t suffer any delays in deliveries nor cancelations of any of its product offerings. That allowed it to leapfrog its French rival Renault Megane, which loses 18% and two places as Renault had to scratch a number of versions from its line-up until they’re tested under the new regulations. The Seat Leon is the other model benefiting from the Megane’s troubles and moves up into 6th place. The Toyota Auris is about to be replaced by the new generation which will be baptised Corolla again, but that didn’t prevent the model from holding its sales impressively stable at just -2%. The Fiat Tipo had a promising start of its career but as always seems to happen with Fiats larger than the subcompact segment, sales are collapsing quickly after launch. At least it manages to stay above 100.000 sales in 2018 and ahead of its South Korean rivals. The Hyundai i30 and Kia Ceed (now without the apostrophe) are both up 5% thanks to the new generations but remain in 10th and 11th place.
The Honda Civic is up 5% and now outsells the Mazda3, but the model remains a niche player in Europe with just 2% share of the segment, compared to 21% in the US. The Civic also sells five times as many cars in China than it does in Europe. The all-electric Leaf sets a new annual sales record at more than double its previous record. It’s now the best selling EV in Europe again and even outsells the Mazda3, which is down 12% as the next generation is due in 2019. The Hyundai Ioniq is up to 16th place as sales of all three versions combined are up 44%. It moves ahead of a number of (to be) discontinued models like the Nissan Pulsar, Citroën C4 and Volkswagen Beetle. The Toyota Prius is down 10% but gains one spot because the Citroën C-Elysee loses a quarter of its sales, which are mostly to taxi companies.
We anticipate a lot of news in this segment in 2019, as the segment leader Golf will launch its 8th generation, which will be followed by also new versions of its sibling Octavia and Leon, as well as the highly anticipated all electric I.D. Neo. More news from VW Group: the Skoda Rapid Spaceback will be replaced by the Skoda Scala. As mentioned above, the Corolla name will be back on Toyota’s hatchback (and station wagon) in Europe and Mazda will start sales of the new generation 3. Kia will expand the Ceed lineup with the Proceed, a station wagon with a very sporty exterior design, the Leaf will get an optional bigger batterypack giving it a larger range, and Hyundai will bring technical updates to the Ioniq as well.
Also check out the compact car segment in the US where three Japanese models dominate ahead of a South Korean contender and the locals are left in the dust.
Click on any model to see its annual sales from 1997-2018 and monthly sales from 2015 to 2018, or use the dropdown menu in the top right of this site.
Car sales statistics are from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.
Sources: Manufacturers, ANDC, JATO Dynamics.