With a bit of a delay we’ll start with the European segment analyses for 2016, starting of course with the minicar segment. Sales of minicars in Europe were stable in 2016 with 1,33 million units sold, compared to an overall market growth of 6,2%. Fiat still holds the top 2 spots of the podium and grows its share of the segment to over 28%, but after 3 years of Fiat 500 reign the Fiat Panda has reclaimed leadership of the segment it led from 2004 until 2012. The Volkswagen Up! holds on to its third place but loses 8% of its volume. The Renault Twingo, leader of the segment between 1999 and 2003, is knocked down into 5th place by the Hyundai i10 and feels the Toyota Aygo breathing down its neck. All three models lose volume in 2016. The Smart Fortwo is the biggest winner in the top-10 with sales up 21%, jumping four places on 2015 and two places on Q3 of 2016. The small two seater even outsold the Aygo in Q4. [Read more…]
The Minicar segment in the United States has been hurt badly by the low gasoline prices in 2016, with sales down 11.0%, the worst fall from all the segments. However, the situation improved markedly for the segment in Q4, when it was the only segment to substantial growth (5.6 percent), driven mainly by substantial sales growth for models: Chevrolet Spark and Mitsubishi Mirage.
With a bit of a delay we’ll start with the European segment analyses for the first three quarters of 2016, starting of course with the minicar segment. After growing 5% in the first half of the year, sales of Europe’s smallest cars have dropped in Q3, reducing the year-to-date growth rate to just 1%. The slowdown of the Volkswagen Up! and the Fiat Panda are largely responsible for this, and this has enabled the Fiat 500 to outsell its sibling in Q3 and threaten it for the segment’s full year top position which it has held since 2013. The third place of the Up! appears unthreatened, but the Renault Twingo has dropped from 4th place in the first half to 6th place after nine months after being outsold by the Toyota Aygo and Hyundai i10. The latter of these two was the #3 seller of the segment in Q3, even topping the little VW. The Lancia Ypsilon holds on to its 7th place, but all five of its closest challengers in places 8 to 12 were within 150 sales of each other in Q3 and all outsold the Ypsilon this quarter.
The minicar segment in the United States is hurt badly by the low gasoline prices, with sales down 21.6% in the first three quarters of 2016, with not a single model improving on last year. Now that we have more detailed data for the Mini brand, we can better compare the models in this segment, as for example the Mini Clubman station wagon really can’t be called a minicar anymore, let alone that it would be cross-shopped with the Chevrolet Spark. The Mini data in this table consist of the Hardtop 2-door and 4-door and the Convertible. Sales of those three models combined showed a drop of 34% compared to the first three quarters of 2015, which means that there’s a new segment leader: the Chevrolet Spark.
The minicar segment in Europe grows 5% in the first half of 2016, which is lower than the overall market at +8,8%. The two Italian segment leaders benefit from the impressive rebound of the Italian car market, the fastest growing major market in the EU. The Fiat Panda is more dependent on its home market than its sibling Fiat 500, and therefore is able to hold on to the segment lead, which it already claimed in the first quarter. The help Fiat hold a 28,5% share of the segment. The Volkswagen Up! remains a distant third with less than half the volume of the leader with sales down 5%, while the Renault Twingo reclaims its fourth place after having dropped to sixth in the first quarter. The rear-engined, rear-wheel drive Twingo lost a lot of ground in Q1 and has recovered only half of that in Q2, but should be able to hold on to its position for the rest of the year, with not a lot of new or updated models arriving in showrooms the coming months. The Toyota Aygo stays well clear of its PSA siblings Peugeot 108 and Citroën C1, while the Smart Fortwo is the biggest winner in the top-10 with an increase of 26%. It even outsold the 108 in Q2 and looks set to leapfrog the French minicar to steal 8th place. That’s still a long way from the fifth place it held in 2013 and before, but bear in mind there were fewer rivals back then, and the Forfour surely cannibalizes some Fortwo sales as well.
2016 continues being a bad year for he Minicar segment, with a further drop in sales in the second quarter of 10 percent relative to Q2 2015, bringing the total fall for the year to 18 percent; only the Premium Mid-sized segment shrank more in 2016 so far. What’s more, this was despite the new Chevy Spark and facelifted Mitsubishi Mirage hitting the market this quarter. It seems that this segment is destined to shrink until gas prices rise meaningfully, as American customers buy cars from this sector only because of the value proposition they represent, rather than because they inherently value the advantage of their small size.
The minicar segment in Europe grows at half the pace of the overall market, at +4% in the first quarter of 2016. The two Italian segment leaders grow faster than the rest of the segment on average and boost their share from 26,4% to 29%, helped by the strong recovery of their home market so far this year. The Fiat Panda has overtaken the Fiat 500 to reclaim its leadership thanks to a very strong first two months, but I don’t think it will hold on to that lead until the end of the year, as the 500 has proven very strong, even though its facelift last year was only minor. The Volkswagen Up! loses 12% but holds on to its third place as last year’s closest rival Renault Twingo loses a painful 22% and drops to sixth place.[Read more…]
What a difference a year makes! 2015 started off very well for the Minicar segment, with a 19% growth recorded in Q1, but 2016 could not be more different: sales were 28% lower in Q1 2016 than a year prior, the biggest fall from among all segments! The reason for this is very clear: continuing low gas prices encourages people to buy larger, less fuel-efficient cars. With only one new car (Chevy Spark) and one facelifted car (Mitsubishi Mirage) hitting the market this year, it’s hard to see how things could get better anytime soon for the struggling segment.
For a while us here at Left-lane.com have been in awe of the success of Dacia, the first true dedicated “value” brand (re)started by a major car manufacturer. Sure, Skoda was arguably the first attempt by a major manufacturer to buy a lowly brand and have it slot in at the bottom of its brand hierarchy, but it was never truly positioned as a “bargain” brand. Notwithstanding the Felicia, itself a re-skinned Favorit, all its models have been basically current VW models for some 20% less cash – that’s cheaper, but not really cheap. When Renault bought Dacia, on the other hand, it created a line-up of dedicated cars that were based on tried and tested platforms whose R&D costs have long been recovered, thus allowing the models to be sold at a very low price point. Add to that a simplified construction, long-travel suspension that was both sturdy and comfortable, minimal styling and a spartan interior and the first Dacia model, the Logan, was ready to do battle with both more expensive western, as well as long-obsolete homegrown models in the Eastern European markets. But what followed was a success story that exceeded all expectations Renault may have had for the brand – Dacia models became a mainstream hits in Western Europe as well, including in über-demanding markets such as Germany and England.
The growth in the minicar segment in Europe has slowed in the fourth quarter, as the segment ends 2015 with 1.332.146 sales, an increase of 8% after growing 10% in each of the first three quarters. The Fiat 500 manages to hold on to its title for the third year in a row despite stable sales as the 500 suffered slightly from a slow fourth quarter as the factory was still gearing up for the model’s first facelift in 7 years time. For Fiat it was the 12th consecutive year on top of the minicar segment since the Panda took over from the Renault Twingo in 2004. Fiat Panda sales were up 13% in 2015 as it closed the gap to its sibling the “Nuova Cinquecento” to less than 9.000 sales.
The Volkswagen Up! is in third place again, despite losing 16% of volume. In Q4 the little VW sold only 40 more units than the Twingo, which closes in for the full year with sales up 17%. The Toyota Aygo does even better at +25% thanks to the new generation. This helps the Aygo move past the Hyundai i10 into 5th place. Its siblings Peugeot 108 and Citroën C1 are a still behind the i10 in #7 and #8, which puts them above the Lancia Ypsilon, down 5% to a still respectable 60.000 sales. [Read more…]