Sales of subcompact cars rebounded slightly in the fourth quarter of 2016, growing by 2 percent relative to Q4’15, allowing the segment to cut the annual fall in sales to 3 percent. This is a very respectable performance for a segment where most cars are older designs, either in the second half of their life-cycle (Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris) or about to be replaced (Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio). And while the segment still only sells less than a third of what the Compact segment manages, 2016 is notable as the first time that the Subcompact segment outsold the Minivan segment over the course of a year.
The Subcompact segment shrank by 6 percent compared to the first half of 2015, a reasonable performance for a mainstream segment – only the Large and Minivan segments did better. What’s more, this was achieved despite many of the cars in the segment getting decidedly long in the tooth (Hyundai Accent, Chevy Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris). However, until these models are replaced later this year / early next year, it’s hard to imagine the Subcompact segment doing much better than this, especially in light of the persistently low gas prices.
The subcompact segment shrank by 4% compared to Q1 2015, not a great performance but considerably better than the minicar segment, which shrank by 28%, and even slightly better than the compact segment, which shrank by 6%. What the subcompact segment is still lacking in popular new metal: the cars that are popular are getting long in the tooth (Kia Soul, Hyundai Accent, Chevy Sonic), while the new cars are not selling in large volumes (Scion iA and Honda Fit, plagued by supply shortages). What’s more, there are no new cars on the immediate horizon, so it seems that the segment will have to wait until 2017 at the earliest to truly rebound when the new Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio should come to market. [Read more…]