The compact segment is up 10% in the first half of 2014, despite rumors that consumers would leave the segment in droves to buy crossovers and SUV’s.
Among the biggest gainers of the segment are the VW-Group siblings Volkswagen Golf, Skoda Octavia (up two spots to an amazing third position) and Seat Leon, together accounting for over 94.000 of the segment’s 104.000 units growth. On top of that, the slightly smaller Skoda Rapid has gained another two spots thanks to the introduction of the Spaceback hatchback version to make it 4 VW-Group cars in the top-10.
The Golf is still the biggest gainer of the segment in absolute numbers, and it’s on track to sell over half a million units in Europe for the first time in 10 years. Other notable gainers are the European Car of the Year Peugeot 308, with the recently introduced station wagon version boosting sales even further, although I don’t expect it to threaten the Opel/Vauxhall Astra for fourth place.
The Renault Megane rebounds slightly from its loss earlier in the year, as its facelift has hit showrooms in the second quarter, helping it stay ahead of the Seat Leon and retake its spot from the Toyota Auris which seems to be peaking at its current level. The Auris could set a new sales record in Europe this year, if it manages to beat the 132.605 units it sold in 2008. The model’s success, with an estimated 80% hybrid rate, is hurting sales of the Prius hybrid, which sees its sales cut in half.
The Mazda3 has doubled last year’s sales to become the second best Japanese subcompact car in Europe, passing the UK-build Honda Civic, despite the latter being available as a station wagon as well.
The Nissan Leaf has gained another spot on the first quarter ranking, as sales of the Chevrolet Cruze have almost come to a halt. If the European governments continue their financial support for EV’s, the Leaf may have a shot at also beating the Toyota Corolla, a sedan model that’s not available in all European markets.
We welcome the Citroën C4 Cactus to the compact car segment, already outselling its “premium”-sibling DS4 in its first full month of sales, so a top-15 position shouldn’t be too hard for the model in 2015. That would include outselling the Volkswagen Beetle, whose original model may be seen as some kind of spiritual ancestor to the Cactus, considering its no-frills design philosophy.
The all-new Nissan Pulsar will enter the ranking later this year, but I expect it to remain an also-ran in the segment, as it offers nothing the other models in the segment don’t and Nissan is enjoying great success with its crossovers Qashqai and Juke and its MPV Note, which will overshadow the Pulsar in European showrooms.
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