The minicar segment continues to shrink in 2017 as has been forecasted by analysts, before it is expected to stabilize until 2020. Since minicars are unaffected by competition from crossovers, the segment is expected remain stable after a second year of small declines. Despite the downturn for the segment, minicars still account for 8,3% of new car sales in Europe with just over 692.000 sales in the half. Fiat retains the 31,5% share of the segment it held in Q1, up from 30,1% in the first half of 2016 and 28,1% in all of 2016. Both of its models, the Panda and the 500, improve their sales and each sells more than double the volume of any other nameplate in the segment. But while the 500 is popular across most of Europe, the Panda remains extremely dependent on its home market Italy for almost 80% of its sales (vs. 30,5% for the 500). Thanks to a strong second quarter, the 500 closes the gap to the #1 position and could reclaim the segment leadership after just one year of Panda domination. The Volkswagen Up! is down by 3% but holds on to its third place, although the Hyundai i10 is closing in thanks to a 10% increase. In the first half of last year, the i10 was in 6th place but it finished 2016 in 4th place before dropping back to 5th in Q1. This may be the year the South-Korean hatchback jumps onto the segment podium.
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The French midels in the top-10 had a difficult Q2, with the Renault Twingo losing 15% while the Citroën C1 and Peugeot 108 both lost more than 22%. Surprisingly for the latter two, their Japanese clone Toyota Aygo does less bad and “only” loses 11% in Q2. As a result, the Aygo now sells about 50% more than it two siblings, while sales of the first generation of the triplets were much more evenly distributed. At the VW Group triplets, the difference between the Up! and its clones Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii is much larger and especially the latter is proving to be of little added value, with just 10% of sales for the triplets.
Big winner in Q2 and the half is the new generation Kia Picanto, storming into the top-8, the highest-ever ranking ever for the nameplate. The Opel Karl/Vauxhall Viva slightly recovers from a horrid first quarter when it lost almost a quarter of its sales, while the Adam is heading the other way with slowing sales in Q2. Perhaps the Adam is affected by the arrival of the Suzuki Ignis, another premium-priced model with polarizing design, which could potentially draw from the same pool of buyers. The Ignis already significantly outsells its cheaper and more practical sibling Celerio, proving once again that not all minicar buyers are bargain hunters and that there’s quite a fair share of people looking for expressive design and the “cool-factor” in a small package and are willing to pay extra for it. This is good news for the brands competing in this segment, because catering to that group makes it easier to break even or make money on minicars, something that has proven pretty difficult in recent years. That’s one of the reasons why almost all models in this segment share a platform and/or technology with models from competing brands.
If we look at the ranking for those combined platforms, we see that behind Fiat with the aforementioned 31,5% share, the Kolin triplets of PSA and Toyota hold 16% of the segment, Renault-Daimler(Smart) holds 14%, while Hyundai-Kia at 12% overtakes the VW Group triplets which hold an 11% share of the segment.
There won’t be a lot of news in the minicar segment for 2017, now that the Kia Picanto has already been renewed. The Opel/Vauxhall Adam is expected to be facelifted and Smart will launch electric versions of its Fortwo and Forfour.
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