European sales in the minicar segment have climbed back into the positive over the full year 2014, although the increase is just a meager 1% on 2013, or 8.170 units. This is a result of the flood of new models that arrived in showrooms late last year, which should help the minicar segment grow faster than the overall market in 2015.
Despite its age, the Fiat 500 not only consolidates its leadership of the segment by adding the most sales of all models, it also breaks its 2009 annual sales record to make 2014 its best year ever. The 500 all by itself sells more cars in Europe than the Peugeot 107/108, Toyota Aygo and Citroën C1 triplets combined, and doing so at (much) higher transaction prices. And with the Panda remaining stable in second spot, Fiat increases its share of the minicar segment to over 27%.
The Volkswagen Up! is starting to feel the heat of the increased competition by its nearest competitors, but its third place remains unchallenged for now. It’s actually more stable than its siblings Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii, and now accounts for two thirds of the triplet’s combined sales.
The fastest growing model in the top-10 is the Hyundai i10 with sales up 34% thanks to its new generation introduced at the end of 2013. However, after trailing the i10 in the first three quarters of 2014, the Renault Twingo strikes back in the fourth quarter as deliveries of its new model gain traction. As a result, the smallest Renault takes back its fourth spot and has set its sights on a third place for 2015, encouraged by strong sales in November and December, when the Twingo closed the gap with the Up! to just 1.400 and 1.200 sales respectively.
Combined sales of the Kolin-triplets 107/108, Aygo and C1 are just as stable as the segment overall, at +1%, but they’re likely to gain share in 2015 when the new generations enjoy their first full year of sales. They already outsold the VW-Group triplets in each of the last four months of the year.
The Opel/Vauxhall Adam has already accumulated 100.000 sales in its first two years on the market. Upon its introduction, some critics (including myself) questioned whether a mainstream brand with a reputation for boring family cars would be able to successfully market a hip citycar at a premium price, but the numbers speak for themselves. General Motors had planned (hoped?) to sell around 45.000 units a year, but after already hitting that target in its introduction year, it managed to increase sales another 18% in 2014 to over 54.000 units.
As the Smart Fortwo was eagerly awaiting the arrival of its third generation, its sales have slumped 20% over the full year 2014 as it dropped from 5th to 11th, although December sales were up on last year as deliveries started. As a result, the Fortwo already outsold the Lancia Ypsilon, Ford Ka and even the Adam in December. I predict a top-8 finish for the model in 2015 as a result of the increased competition in the segment, not the least from its own stablemate the Forfour.
Despite running on its last legs, the Suzuki Alto amazingly manages to squeeze out a small sales increase in 2014, while its successor the Suzuki Celerio has clocked up its first handful of sales before hoping to hit full steam in 2015.
Another model that’s surprisingly seen the light is the Mitsubishi Space Star. Since its introduction early 2013, the Space Star averaged under 1.400 monthly units. But then 18 months after its first deliveries started, the small Mitsubishi suddenly picks up steam and starts to sell at a monthly level above 2.400 units.
After 10 new or renewed models arrived in the segment in 2013 and 2014, the only all-new minicar in 2015 will be the replacement to the Ford Ka in the last quarter. Besides that, Kia has planned a minor facelift planned for the Picanto early this year. And in the second quarter, the Opel Karl/Vauxhall Viva should be ready for its first deliveries, replacing the Chevrolet Spark and the Aveo subcompact and the Opel/Vauxhall Agila at the same time, as the new model will be positioned as Opel/Vauxhall’s low-cost entry level car.
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