Sales of compact cars in Europe declined 2% in 2017 to nearly 2,34 million units after 4% declines in each of the last three quarters. Europe’s second largest segment accounts for 15,1% of the total market, down from 15,8% in 2016. Segment leader Volkswagen Golf is completely on par with the rest of the segment and holds on to its 20,6% share thanks to a facelift in Q2. Its stablemate Skoda Octavia is stable for the year, gaining less than 500 sales but that still means a new volume record for the nameplate, knocking down the Opel/Vauxhall Astra which was down 35% in Q3 after a 28% decline in Q3. Like the Corsa in the subcompact segment, the Astra suffers from Opel/Vauxhall’s new owner deciding not to chase volume at all cost as General Motors used to do. This means lower discounts and reduces deliveries to daily rental fleets, leading to a sales shock in the short term but should be beneficial for the brand in the long run. Fourth placed Ford Focus is also stable despite being in the final year of the current generation and despite the overall decline of the UK market, its most important market with a third of its European volume. In the battle of the French, the Renault Megane jumps ahead of the Peugeot 308 to take 5th place, but I´m sure Renault expected more from this new model.
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Setting a new sales record for the fourth consecutive year, the Seat Leon is up slightly but remains in 7th place, ahead of the Fiat Tipo which sets a new ranking record for an Italian model in this segment at #8. The Tipo has proven to be a hit for Fiat and underscores there was an unfilled potential for a no-frills model now that the Octavia has moved into mainstream territory. And the great news for the brand is that the success of the Tipo is not only limited to Italy, as its home market accounts for 45,3% of its European volume, less than any other Fiat model except for the 500. When including its production home Turkey where it is sold as the Egea for an additional 47.700 sales, Italy’s share of its sales are down to less than a third of its volume. The Toyota Auris is due for a redesign and dips with double digits, making its 9 models to sell over 100.000 units in this segment. The top-10 is finalized by the Hyundai i30, down 2% but up by double digits in the second half of the year thanks to its new generation, which allows it to distance its stablemate Kia Cee’d which will be replaced in 2018. The new generation Honda Civic is unable to improve on the outgoing version, potentially handicapped by the loss of the station wagon version, but perhaps also because its design may not appeal to European tastes. It is distanced by the much older Mazda3, although the Civic came out ahead in Q4. The Nissan Leaf takes a big hit in the fourth quarter as the new generation was due in early 2018, allowing the Hyundai Ioniq to move ahead into 18th place, although the electric version accounted for 27,7% of the volume for the nameplate. The hybrid was the most popular at 63,9% which means it outsold its rival Toyota Prius by 185 units.
We anticipate a lot of news in this segment in 2018, with all-new generations of the Focus, Auris and Cee’d, as well as a new Jetta, Impreza and the second generation Leaf, while the i30 family will get a third version: the fastback. The 308 is expected to be facelifted, while its stablemate C4 is destined to be axed after this generation, just like the Pulsar.
Also check out the compact car segment in the US where three Japanese models dominate ahead of a South Korean contender and the locals are left in the dust.
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