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.
The small crossover segment continues to boom again outgrowing the overall market by a 2-to-1 ratio at +16% to 435.000 sales. The small crossover segment is already almost as large in terms of unit sales than the compact and midsized crossover segments combined. And new models will continue to enter the segment, so don’t expect this growth curve to flatten anytime soon. Meanwhile, the Renault Captur holds on to the segment leadership it has held ever since its launch, but does so by the skin of its teeth. With sales virtually stable as a facelift is imminent, the Captur feels the already facelifted Peugeot 2008 breathing down its neck thanks to an 18% increase, now just 1.200 sales behind the leader. In third place we stil find the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka X, up 12% and distancing the top-3 players from the rest of the segment.
Sales of compact carsin Europe increased 4% in the first quarter of 2017, half the growth of the overall market at +7,8%. Total volume of the segment was just over 636.000 sales, which means it remains the second-largest segment in Europe. Segment leader Volkswagen Golf is in trouble with a loss of 11% as it has just been facelifted but also feels some in-house competition from the new generation Tiguan, and possibly even from the Seat Ateca crossover. The new generation Opel/Vauxhall Astra continues to outperform the segment, but is still way too far behind to even remotely threaten the Golf’s domination. Like the Fiesta one segment down, the Ford Focus traditionally has a good start of the year thanks to its popularity in the UK, but its 7% gain is nonetheless impressive considering it is one of the oldest models in the top-6.
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.
After more than 1 million small crossovers and SUVs were sold in Europe in 2015, this remains one of the fastest growing segments with an increase of 16% to 1,4 million sales in 2016, more than half the volume of the subcompact hatchbacks, Europe largest segment and the models on which most of these crossovers are based. The growth is mostly fueled by recent model introductions, as proven by the fact that the entire top-4 loses share of the segment. Still, only two models in the top-10 lose volume in 2016, although that figure doubles to four in the last quarter. As expected, the Renault Captur holds on to the segment lead and becomes the first small crossover to sell over 200.000 units annually in Europe. More surprisingly, the Captur manages this performance without having been updated since its launch while its two closes rivals have been facelifted in 2016. Of these two, the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka sees stable sales and loses its second place to the Peugeot 2008, the fastest growing model in the top-4.
The compact car segment in Europe has grown by 3% in 2016, half the growth of the overall market at +6,2% and equal to the subcompact car segment, which remains Europe’s largest segment ahead of this one. Expectedly, the dominant leader of the segment Volkswagen Golf drops back below half a million sales after two years, due to increasing pressure of fresh rivals. The main culprit to the Golf’s demise is the Opel/Vauxhall Astra, movin up from fifth place to #2 for the first time since 2011 thanks to a 30% sales increase on last year, topping a quarter million sales also for the first time since 2011. The bang-for-your-bucks Skoda Octavia holds on to its third place with sales up 5%, helped by the 9% loss for the Ford Focus, dropping from 2nd place to #4. The Peugeot 308 loses a similar share of 9% and drops a place to #5 after topping 200.000 sales for only one year.
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.
At +23% in the first nine months of 2016, the small crossover segment is still one of the fastest growing mainstream segments in Europe. Compared to the same period of last year, the segment has added almost 190.000 units of volume, pushing it past the one million sales mark after just three quarters of the year, a figure which it only hit in December of last year. Small crossovers outsold their larger counterpart midsized crossovers in the second quarter, but have fallen back behind again in Q3 as a result of surging sales in that segment thanks to a number of new launches there. The Renault Captur continues to improve but also to lose its dominant market share as the number of players in this segment grows. Its closest two challengers, the Peugeot 2008 and Opel/Vauxhall Mokka have both been facelifted this year and had a neck-and-neck race in Q3, which means the former holds on to 2nd place of the segment year-to-date.
At +4% in the first three quarters of 2016, sales of compact cars in Europe grew faster than the minicar and subcompact segments, but slower than the overall market. The traditional leader Volkswagen Golf is feeling the competition from the Opel/Vauxhall Astra, but its top spot is in no way threatened. In fact, VW feels so confident about the strength of the Golf nameplate, its upcoming facelift will keep exterior design updates to a minimum. The Golf will be made up-to-date on in-car technology, with gesture control for its multimedia system and semi-autonomous features. Meanwhile, the Astra is the biggest winner of the segment in volume terms and is now the only other compact car with a double digit share of the segment. After narrowly edging out the Ford Focus for 3rd place in the first half of 2016, the Skoda Octavia firmly consolidates that position in Q3, as the Focus is the biggest loser in the top-10.
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.