After nine months, the European compact car segment is still up 10%, outperforming the market and, with over 1,7 million units sold, still the second largest segment of the continent.
As expected, the VW Golf continues to lead over its rivals by a large margin, and even increasing its share of the segment to 23%, which means almost one in every four compact cars sold in Europe is a Golf. The Ford Focus had an excellent month of September thanks to the strong UK market, but it was outsold by the Skoda Octavia in both July and August. With Octavia sales up one third and Focus sales stable year-to-date, the Focus desperately needs the upcoming facelift to fend off its Czech rival next year.
The Opel/Vauxhall Astra is still waiting for its replacement and is in danger of losing its fourth place to the Peugeot 308 next year, as the latter is coming closer and closer. However, the 308 can’t afford not to look in its mirrors, as the Seat Leon is charging ahead as well, now having passed the ageing Renault Megane for sixth place. The Megane was also outsold by the Toyota Auris in August and September and may lose another spot by the end of the year. That should give some consolation to the best selling Asian compact, which has been kicked down from 6th to 8th this year.
The Hyundai i30 and Kia Cee’d lose more than 10.000 units of their volume each, although their replacements won’t be due until at least 2016. With the successful launch of the new generation Mazda3, Mazda may bring a battle to the South-Koreans next year, trying to become the second best selling Asian compact, after it already passed the Honda Civic.
The Citroën C4 Cactus is a runaway success, ready to pass the DS4 year-to-date and outselling the regular C4 and even the Volkswagen Beetle in both August and September. This is a huge and perhaps unexpected success for the French manufacturer, and they’ll be very happy with the fact that European carbuyers seem to warm to the new strategy the brand is testing with the Cactus.
The all-electric Nissan Leaf has now passed the Toyota Corolla and even outsold the DS4 this quarter, and looks set to double the sales of the Toyota Prius hybrid by the end of the year. The Leaf just recorded its best month ever in September and is on target to become the first Zero-Emission vehicle to reach the 15.000 annual sales mark by the end of the year.
The Kia Soul benefits from its new generation, almost tripling last year’s sales and passing the Chevrolet Cruze, Volkswagen Scirocco and Toyota Prius this quarter. It has a top-20 position in its crosshairs by the end of the year, ready to leapfrog the VW Jetta and Seat Toledo.
We welcome the Nissan Pulsar to the ranking, as the Japanese brand returns to the traditional C-segment, after abandoning it a few years ago when it gambled everything on the Qashqai and hit the jackpot. Now that Qashqai sales have stabilized at 200.000 units a year, Nissan wants to continue its progress by expanding the line-up, returning to Europe’s second largest segment. Nissan says the Pulsar stands out from the crowd with above average interior space and by introducing technology from higher segments like a 360 degree surround view camera to make parking easier, but I don’t think that’s enough to compete against established competitors. Especially with a car that offers such an uninspiring design. The brand expects an annual sales volume of 64.000 cars, which would put it just outside the top-10, but I’m not sure Hertz and Europcar need that many rental cars.
The only all-new model for next year will be the next generation Astra, which will be introduced at the Geneva Autoshow in March.
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