After the first nine months of 2014, the minicar segment is still in negative territory, although just. Sales are down 1% or less than 5.000 units on last year, which means sales have improved in the third quarter, thanks to a strong performance for the segment leader Fiat 500 and the new generation Kolin triplets.
The Fiat 500 goes from strength to strength and seems to be unstoppable. In September, European sales of the already six-year-old model were above the 20.000 cars per month mark for only the second time ever, after last March. The 500 hasn’t just confirmed its leadership of the segment, which it took from the Panda exactly one year ago, it even added more sales than any other model in the segment, increasing its share of the segment to 15%. By itself, the 500 sold almost as many cars as the Volkswagen Up!, Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii combined.
The Panda holds on to the second spot, followed by the VW Up! which has remained stable on last year. The fastest growing model in the top 15 of the segment is the Hyundai i10, which has been renewed at the end of last year. Sales of the new generation are up one third compared to its predecessor in the first nine months of 2013. If the i10 manages to hold on to its fourth place of the segment by the end of the year, it would be an all-time best for the model.
However, the new generation Renault Twingo has just hit European showrooms and has that same fourth place in its crosshairs. Less than 5.000 sales separate the two models, and the Twingo has already outsold the i10 in August and September. In fact, the French brand sold almost as many citycars as VW sold their Up! in September. This could be a photo finish for the i10 and the Twingo. Renault has enough faith in the Twingo to aiming for a segment podium spot in 2015.
With the new generations Citroën C1, Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo in showrooms in the third quarter, the Kolin triplets have started their comeback. The Aygo seems to have gained traction faster than the two French models, as the little Toyota is already up on last year, while its siblings are still playing catch-up. This is very similar to the situation nine years ago at the introduction of the first generation triplets. For the first two-and-a-half years, the Aygo was the best seller of the three before falling behind after the first facelift and returning to the top in 2011. Over the course of their life cycles, the three models have sold almost equal volumes.
A surprising 12% year-on-year gain for the Lancia Ypsilon , thanks to a strong performance in its home market Italy, where it takes the bulk of its volume. It’s followed by the Ford Ka, which isn’t the freshest model either, but also increases its sales.
The Opel/Vauxhall Adam has passed the Smart Fortwo and the Kia Picanto this quarter to jump from 11th place to 9th, and undoubtedly will move into 8th place by the end of the year, surpassing the Ford Ka as well. The little Adam is selling surprisingly well, ready to reach its full-year target of 45.000 sales two months early.
A very strong third quarter for the Mitsubishi Space Star, outselling the Seat Mii in each of the three months and already selling more units than in all of 2013, when sales started in the beginning of the year.
In 2015, the new generation Smart Fortwo and all-new Forfour will be introduced, both on the same platform as the Renault Twingo, which means rear-wheel drive and the engine in the back as well. The Suzuki Celerio will replace the Alto, and the Kia Picanto is due for a model change as well. Opel will introduce the Karl, or Vauxhall Viva in the UK, as a successor to both the Opel/Vauxhall Agila and the discontinued Chevrolet Spark, while Ford hasn’t made a decision yet on the future of the Ka in Europe.
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