The subcompact car segment in Europe grew by 6% in the second quarter of 2017 and a similar rate in the first half. It remains the largest segment in Europe by a large margin, with an 18,6% share of the total market, at almost 1,56 million sales in the half. The segment is very dynamic thanks to a number of new and updated models, with plenty more to come later this year. But some of the existing models also show continued strength. At the top of the ranking, the top-3 is back to how it was for the full year 2016 with the recently facelifted Renault Clio in the lead ahead of the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta. The latter two are about to be replaced by completely new generations and should give the Clio a run for its money if it wants to top the segment for a second consecutive year. The new Fiesta is already in showrooms at the moment this article is published and the Polo won’t be long behind. Big loser in the top-10 is the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa with a loss of 16% in Q2 as its 2014 facelift cannot hide that it’s basically already an 11-year-old design. Unfortunately for the model, its replacement isn’t due until 2019. That replacement will be developed on the PSA platform which also underpins the new Citroën C3.
Note: clicking on the model name opens the sales data page for that model; clicking year in the legend turns the display for that year on/off
The Peugeot 208 outsold the Corsa in Q2 and could end 2017 in fourth place of the segment. Big winner in the top-20 is the new Citroën C3, jumping from #10 in 2016 to #6 and it was only 3.000 sales behind the Corsa in Q2, as the new styling proves to be a hit in the short term. It will be important for the French brand to keep sales stable after the honeymoon period, as opposed to the C4 Cactus which started to decline way too quickly after its initial peak. A model for which the opposite can be said is the Dacia Sandero, as it’s in its 6th straight year of continuous improvement. The Sandero now outsells the Toyota Yaris and is on schedule to sell over 200.000 units in 2017, up from just 73.500 in 2012. The Yaris has also shown steady improvement in sales for the last 3 years but is slightly down so far this year. It’s just been facelifted so it may extend its winning streak after all if sales pick up in the second half of the year.
The Seat Ibiza has just been renewed and the new generation still needs to gain traction but will certainly end 2017 with a nice bump in volume over 2016. It may even challenge its platform sibling Skoda Fabia by the end of the year, when deliveries reach their full potential. The Hyundai i20 shows a nice improvement but is unable to break into the segment top-10. It will face increased competition from the new generation Nissan Micra which is now designed for and produced in Europe so should be able to do much better than its predecessor which was a bit too small for the segment and had styling that didn’t appeal to many European buyers.
The Kia Rio has also just been renewed, but after a 16% improvement in Q1 it has fallen flat in Q2 with just a 1% increase. The Fiat Punto has been slowly sinking from its peak at over 327.000 sales in 2009 to its current level, down another 32% in Q2 as Fiat has failed to keep its former bestseller fresh and relevant. The Punto is at risk of being outsold by the Ford Ka+, a budget subcompact that was developed in Brazil for emerging markets and is built in India. Fiat may be contemplating a similar strategy with the Brazilian Fiat Argo but so far the limited sales figures of the Ka+ aren’t exactly helping to support that business case. In Q2 the Ka+ was outsold by the Dacia Logan which is only 25 sales behind for the first half.
The Suzuki Swift has just been renewed and the new generation has been in showrooms since April but has so far failed to make an impact on the model’s performance, with another 24% decline in Q2. The new Swift offers a lot of technology for its class as well as a lightweight contruction that makes it one of the lightest cars in the segment but its design seems to be another step back from the unique and sporty styling of two generations ago. This is confusing because you’d think the more practical and roomy Baleno would allow the Swift to become the even more playful and sporty alternative. The no-nonsense Baleno itself is not exactly a blockbuster either, and already seems to have hit its peak with just a 7% increase in Q2 over its first full quarter of sales last year. The Mazda2 is down 18% in Q2 and was outsold by the all-electric Renault Zoe which also threatens to move ahead in the year-to-date ranking as its connects with the mainstream models.
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