The Small Sports segment accelerates its decline in the first quarter of 2017 with a loss of 16.8% after already losing 6.5 percent in 2016. Sales of small sports cars dropped to 69,938 in Q1 as 9 out of the 13 models lost volume, of which 7 with double digits. The top-3 are the American muscle cars, which hold more than three quarters of the segment and they lose slightly faster than the rest of the segment. And keeping in mind sales of muscle cars have traditionally proven to be a bellwether for the entire US car market, this could be yet another indication that car sales have hit their peak. Hopefully the facelifted Ford Mustang can breathe some much-needed new life into the segment. The only other sports car news in 2017 will be the new Toyota Supra, co-developed by the Japanese brand with BMW.
Highlights for Q1 2017:
- Like in 2016, the decline in the sales of the segment-leading Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro is surprising given how relatively new these models are. The Mustang has just been slightly updated which should help it recover in the coming months, but the Camaro seems in trouble, especially when you realize that the generation-older Dodge Challenger outsold it for the first time ever. Amazing marketing by Dodge as the Hellcat and upcoming Demon have a halo effect on the rest of this vehicle’s line-up.
- With a big gap to the muscle-car trimvirate, the Hyundai Veloster is back down again after a sudden jump in sales in 2016.
- The new generation Mazda MX-5 Miata has caught on and is on track to its best annual volume since 2007. The addition of the foldable hard top version RF will give the model another boost for the rest of the year. And its cousin Fiat 124 Spider does not appear to cannibalize its original too much. Not surprising considering how different these cars are in looks and character, let alone in brand recognition. Still, for a low-volume model from a small and struggling brand to sell about as many as Subaru sold BRZs is nothing to be ashamed of.
- The BRZ’s cousin, now rebadged to Toyota 86 is stable on last year when it was still sold as a Scion, and also stable is the Buick Cascada convertible, distancing the Nissan 370Z which is starting to show its age.