Sales of subcompact cars in Europe remain stable at a 1% growth year-on-year after the first nine months of 2014. It remains the largest segment of the continent at almost 2 million units sold.
The traditional leader Ford Fiesta has taken some distance from the Renault Clio in second place, mainly thanks to an excellent month of September, in which the small Ford outsold all of its rivals by a margin of at least 10.000 units, similar to last March. These months are the peak months in the UK market, where the Fiesta is particularly strong. In August, the Fiesta was outsold by both the VW Polo and the Clio. The Polo has just been facelifted and has outsold the Renault Clio in both August and September. I think the advantage of the Clio is large enough to hold onto its position until the end of the year, but it better prepare for a battle in 2015.
The Peugeot 208 continues to struggle, down 10% on last year. A Peugeot spokesperson at the Paris Auto Show last month explained to me that the brand prefers profit over volume and therefore chooses not to dump the model to rental companies at very low margins. Also, the 208 is set to get a facelift next year to keep it fresh.
A recent facelift of the Toyota Yaris, with the new X-shaped front-end that’s the brand’s new family face is likely to keep the small Toyota in the plus this year. It’s still the only subcompact car available with an optional hybrid powertrain, which may have something to do with the relatively high cost price and small advantage in fuel consumption in a segment that’s crowded with already very efficient gasoline and diesel cars.
Once again, Dacia is among the fastest growing models in the segment, adding over 45.000 sales on last year. The Sandero keeps defying gravity in a record 7th place and sales up 23%, while the Logan has outsold cars like the Kia Rio, Citroën DS3, Nissan Micra and even the Fiat Punto in both July and August. The Punto will continue to struggle until its replacement is due in 2016. By that time, what used to be Fiat’s best selling model by far, taking more than half of the brand’s sales in 2001, will have dwindled to the bottom third of the segment, as customers find their needs fulfilled by other brands.
Thanks to an excellent month of September, the all-electric Renault Zoe is almost back in positive territory, after it was down 15% in the first half of the year. Similarly, the Citroën C-Zero, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Peugeot iOn triplets are also back into positive territory, although the two French copies are doing better than the Japanese original.
2015 will bring a flood of new models from Asian manufacturers, as the new generations Mazda2, Hyundai i20 and Honda Jazz are all ready to hit showrooms next year. Skoda will counter with the third generation Fabia, which will once again be available as a station wagon, as one of only four brands of two manufacturers to do so, together with the Seat Ibiza ST, Renault Clio Estate and Dacia Logan MCV. The Opel/Vauxhall Corsa and the DS3 will be slightly updated to keep them fresh until their replacement is due in a couple of years.
Toyota Urban Cruiser
Great Wall Voleex C20R
Click on any model to see its annual sales from 1997-2013 and monthly sales in 2012, 2013 and 2014, or use the dropdown menu in the top right of this site. Sources: Manufacturers, ANDC, JATO Dynamics.
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