Sales of subcompact SUVs and crossovers are booming in the US as they are in Europe, helped by an influx of new models as the segment has grown from just three players in the first quarter of 2015 to seven this year. Total segment sales grew 162,5% to 83,163 units, by far the fastest growth of all mainstream SUV segments, but it’s also still by far the smallest segment in terms of volume. We also have a new leader in town, as the Jeep Renegade is an instant blockbuster. It finished its introduction year in third place behind the two General Motors models, but has taken firm control of the segment in 2016, selling 27% more than its closest competitor, the former segment leader Buick Encore. Not that Buick, or GM for that matter, has anything to complain about: the Encore still added almost a quarter to its volume of last year, and that’s before it’s being facelifted later this year. The Chevrolet Trax drops from second to fourth place but manages to improve 42% on its volume of Q1. As a result, General Motors is still the leader of the segment with its twin models, ahead of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles with its two models.
Another newcomer occupies the third spot of the segment, up from fourth place in 2015: the Honda HR-V. Despite GM’s strong foothold in China, the Encore and Trax sell slightly better in the US than across the Pacific, while the HR-V sells less than half the volume of China (where it is called the Vezel), and that’s even despite Honda having a second model in that segment there with the XR-V which sells in similar numbers.
The Nissan Juke is the only model in the segment to lose volume on last year, but keep in mind this model has been around since 2010 and created the segment in the US in the first place. The Juke keeps the Mazda CX-3 at bay, as the smallest Mazda appears to be stuck below 2,000 monthly sales, not a good sign considering the brand opted not to sell the new generation Mazda2 subcompact sedan and the similar-sized CX-3 crossover alongside each other, like it does in Canada and other parts of the world. If the CX-3 doesn’t improve quickly, it won’t even beat the Mazda2‘s annual best of 19,315 sales in 2015.
In last place we find the unfortunate Fiat 500X, which drops a third of its volume compared to the previous quarter, Q4 of 2015. What’s worse is that the sales figures of the all-new 500X still can’t offset the losses of the Italian brand’s two existing nameplates, the 500 minicar and 500L subcompact car. Even though they’re technically the same car, the Renegade outsells the 500X by a 5.5 to 1 ratio, helped by its larger dealer network and better brand recognition. Bad news for Fiat, especially since Sergio Marchionne has no mercy in cutting unprofitable products, as he has said he’ll do with the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200.