The compact car segment in Europe is in faster decline than the overall market in the first quarter of 2019, with a loss of 14% to 528.363 sales, as Europe’s second largest segment now accounts for 13% of the total market, down from 14,3% in Q1 of 2018. That means it is under threat from the small crossover segment (up 11% to 14% share of the market). This is also one of the main reasons for the decline of the compact car segment: customers deflecting to crossovers. Segment best seller Volkswagen Golf is due for a redesign this year and loses 16% of its volume but still holds a commanding lead over its competition. In second place we now find the Ford Focus with sales up 8% thanks to its new generation, outselling the Skoda Octavia by a significant margin and thus ending a two-year period with the VW Group in the top two spots. The last time another manufacturer held a top-2 position in this segment was 2016 when the Opel/Vauxhall Astra was the Golf’s nearest rival, but so far this year the Astra is down into 5th place with sales down 18%. The Peugeot 308 moves up a spot to #4 despite also losing volume, but improves its share of the segment by 0,7 percentage points. The Seat Leon and Renault Megane also do slightly better than the overall segment but are still down by double digits, while the Kia Ceed is up an impressive 35%, helped by the addition of the Sportswagon and ProCeed versions. This moves the Ceed into 8th place, its highest ever ranking in the compact car segment in Europe.
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The Fiat Tipo is down 29% after a promising start of its career, while the Hyundai i30 is down by a similar percentage as the overall segment and is now outsold by its sibling Kia Ceed for the first time since 2010. The Toyota Auris is being replaced by the all-new Corolla, which is likely to become a top-5 challenger thanks to its two different hybrid versions: one aimed at buyers looking for maximum fuel efficiency and one aimed at buyers looking for a power boost. In its turn, the Skoda Rapid is also being replaced this year, by the recently launched Skoda Scala. The Honda Civic manages to improve its share of the segment while the Mazda3 falls behind the two “new energy” models in this segment: the Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Ioniq, both up by double digits. The 3 is about to be replaced by a new generation and should be able to recover later this year. The same can’t be said of the Toyota Prius, whose too polarizing design of the fourth generation has hurt sales and which is now going to be made obsolete by the new Corolla. In the sedan-only category of the segment, the Citroën C-Elysee and Seat Toledo each lose more than half of their sales on last year.
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 siblings Octavia and Leon, as well as the highly anticipated all electric ID3 for which the company has already started taking deposits. As mentioned above, Mazda will start sales of the new generation 3, the Leaf will get an optional bigger battery pack giving it a longer range and Hyundai will bring technical updates to the Ioniq as well.
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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.