Sales in the subcompact segment in the United States continued falling in the third quarter of 2017, dropping from just under half a million in 2016 to 376,213 in the first three quarters of 2017, which is less than the number of minivans sold over the same period. The decline has been pretty consistent so far this year, with the rate of decline ranging between 15% and 25% over the three quarters, and suggests customers are eschewing this segment in favor of subcompact SUVs. It will be interesting whether the new Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio will be able to turn this around once they hit the market, but given the disappointing performance of the new Honda Fit the signs are not very promising.
The subcompact car segment in Europe grew by 6% in the second quarter of 2017 and a similar rate in the first half. It remains the largest segment in Europe by a large margin, with an 18,6% share of the total market, at almost 1,56 million sales in the half. The segment is very dynamic thanks to a number of new and updated models, with plenty more to come later this year. But some of the existing models also show continued strength. At the top of the ranking, the top-3 is back to how it was for the full year 2016 with the recently facelifted Renault Clio in the lead ahead of the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta. The latter two are about to be replaced by completely new generations and should give the Clio a run for its money if it wants to top the segment for a second consecutive year. The new Fiesta is already in showrooms at the moment this article is published and the Polo won’t be long behind. Big loser in the top-10 is the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa with a loss of 16% in Q2 as its 2014 facelift cannot hide that it’s basically already an 11-year-old design. Unfortunately for the model, its replacement isn’t due until 2019. That replacement will be developed on the PSA platform which also underpins the new Citroën C3.
Sales in the subcompact segment in the United States continued falling in the second quarter of 2017, dropping by 250,395 units for the first half of the year. This represents a fall of 20.8% compared to the first half of 2016, the second fastest rate of decline from among the mainstream segments, behind only the minicar segment. Part of the reason is that a lot of the cars in the segment are either about to be replaced (Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio) or are in the second half of their life-cycle (Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris), but really it’s the gradual migration to crossovers that’s the more likely reason of this trend – the subcompact SUV segment grew by 10.6% percent over the same period, and sold more than 200,000 units in half a year for the first time ever.
Sales of subcompact cars in Europe grew by 10% in the first quarter of 2017, faster than the overall market growth of 7,8%, and it remains the largest segment in Europe by a large margin, at more than 793.000 sales. This growth is fueled by a number of renewed or facelifted models, but also by continued strength of older models. At the top of the ranking, we have once again a change of guard as the Ford Fiesta reclaims its top position after being outsold by the Renault Clio in the full year 2017. The Fiesta is traditionally strong in Q1 thanks to its popularity in the UK and it therefore benefits from large volumes in March. In fact, this March the Fiesta was even the best selling nameplate overall, even ahead of the VW Golf, even despite being due for replacement this year. The Clio is still the fastest growing model in the top-5 and overtakes the Volkswagen Polo when compared to Q1 of 2016.
While minicars rebounded in Q1 of 2017, the subcompact car segment started the year deep in the red with a loss of 15.7% compared to the first quarter of 2016, for a total of 117,995 sales. The segment top-3 all lost with double digits, as the rise of the subcompact crossover segment undoubtedly plays a role in the struggles of the similarly sized sedans and hatchbacks. Then again, no less than four out of the nine players are due to be renewed this year (Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio), while two others are in the second half of their life-cycle (Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris) as well.
The subcompact car segment grew by 3% in 2016, about half the overall market growth of 6,2%, but it remains the largest segment in Europe by a large margin. At the top of the ranking, we have a change of guard. For only the second time since 2009 the Ford Fiesta is not Europe’s best selling subcompact car and for the first time in a decade the Renault Clio is the segment leader. We’ve had three different leaders in three quarters, with the Fiesta in the lead after the first quarter, but the Clio took over in Q3, while the Volkswagen Polo became the segment best seller in Q3. By year end, the Clio ended up on top with sales up 3% to just 3.500 ahead of the Polo, while the Fiesta lost 5% of its volume to drop below 300.000 annual sales for only the second time since 2002. The Clio has just been slightly facelifted and the Polo will be updated soon, but there will be an all-new generation of the Fiesta later this year, which should help the nameplate recover some of the lost ground.
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.
Sales of subcompact cars in Europe are up just 2% in the first nine months of 2016, and they were flat in Q3. Europe’s biggest segment is in a low point of its product cycle, with a lot of new and updated models due in the coming months, including new generations for the two best sellers and a facelift of the #3. Still, only two models out of the top-12 are down year-on-year, with the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa less than one tenth of a percent. In each of the three quarters we’ve had a different leader this year: we started with the Ford Fiesta on top, then after six months the Renault Clio had taken over, and now in the third quarter the Volkswagen Polo has taken charge, even though the Fiesta outsold it in Q3 despite both being in the final stage of their life cycle. The Peugeot 208 is the big winner in the top-5 and the Dacia Sandero takes those honors for the top-10, even though it was passed by the Skoda Fabia this quarter.
Sales of subcompact cars rebounded slightly in Q3 of 2016 with an increase of 2%, to cut the year-to-date loss in half to 3%. That’s even despite the fact that a number of models in this segment is due for a redesign within the next 12 months, most notably the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio. Surprisingly, the latter two South-Korean models are actually the among the three fastest growing models of the segment in Q3, together with the Honda Fit.
Just yesterday Kia released pictures of the new Rio, and it looks reassuringly familiar – those solid flanks, the handsome front, the slightly aggressive lights. However, unlike with so many new cars these days, this is not because the new Kia Rio looks much like the old one (think most VAG, BMW products). In fact, the new Rio looks surprisingly unlike its dynamic and uniquely-styled predecessor. Rather, it is reminiscent of another car… [Read more…]