Sales of minicars in Europe decline again by 1% in 2018 to 1,24 million units, which means their share of the total European car market is slightly down from 8,1% in 2017 to 8,0%, which is not a bad performance considering there haven’t been any major updates to any of the models in this segment in 2018. Despite the lack of investment by manufacturers due to the slim margins on this kind of vehicle, the segment is expected to stabilize at this level sales until 2020. Fiat’s dominance in this segment shrinks to a share of 28,7% with its two models, as the aging Panda lost 10% of its volume while the 500 maintains stable despite being just about as old. The decline of the Italian market and the Panda’s dependence on its home market are the biggest reason for that model’s troubles, as Italy is responsible for more than the Panda’s lost volume, meaning sales outside Italy actually increased and the share of its home market is down from 78% to 73,9%. The 500 also loses 14.000 sales in Italy but wins them back in other markets, as now just 21,2% of its European registrations happen in its home market, down from 28,5% in 2017. The Volkswagen Up! is down 3% to just below 100.000 sales but manages to hold on to its podium place that it has held ever since its first full year of sales 2012.
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However, it was under threat this year from the Toyota Aygo, the leader of the other set of triplets in this segment, as the Aygo is up 9% to within 5.200 sales of the Up! after outselling the little VW in the first quarter of 2018. The Renault Twingo is back up to 5th place thanks to a 12% gain, and that’s even before its technical and minor cosmetic update in 2019. That knocks down the Hyundai i10 to 6th place as it loses 8% with a new generation coming up in 2019. Its sibling Kia Picanto is up 20% as it has already been renewed last year. The Smart Fortwo is down 5% and one place to #8 while its sibling Forfour is up 2% but also loses a spot and is now in 16th place. From 2020 onwards these two models will only be sold as electric cars, so 2019 is likely to be the last year they sell at their current levels.
As usual, the French duo of the PSA-Toyota triplets are not as far behind the Aygo as the Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii are behind the Up!. Especially the Mii is losing ground quickly, down by double digits for the third year in a row and down by almost half since 2015 while the Up! and Citigo have remained relatively stable during that same period. As a result, PSA and Toyota sold more than 200.000 copies of their triplets, while VW Group is down to just over 150.000, nearly two thirds of which come from the VW brand itself.
The Opel/Vauxhall Adam is starting to get a bit long in the tooth and drops 13%, while the Opel Karl/Vauxhall Viva is relatively stable at -2% even though PSA is planning to withdraw the models in 2019 because they’re heritage products developed and produced by GM, and they’re trying to cut these ties as quickly as possible and integrate the German brand with their own models. There hasn’t been any confirmation or even rumors that there will be a replacement for the Karl/Viva based on the current 108 and C1, though. Besides the Picanto, the Mitsubishi Space Star is the other big winner of the segment, with sales growing 20% and making 2018 the best year for the model since its launch in 2013, but there’s no clear reason on the product side to explain this second wind. Likewise, the electric citycars Peugeot iOn and Citroën C-Zero also make somewhat of a comeback even though they remain marginal sellers and their original from Mitsubishi has lost all relevance and is almost outsold by the not-even-really-a-car Citroën E-Mehari.
There won’t be a lot of news in the minicar segment for 2019 again. The i10 and Fiat 500 (finally) will be renewed, and from the latter we expect a station wagon version (called Giardiniera) and the electric version, although we might have to wait for those until next year. By then the Panda will be renewed as well. Renault has already shown the facelifted version of the Twingo and VW is expected to update the e-Up! when Skoda launches an EV version of the Citigo that promises more range than the current e-Up!.
Also check out the minicar segment in the US, where we see a new leader of the shrinking segment for the second consecutive year as the Mitsubishi Mirage proves to be a late bloomer on the other side of the ocean as well.
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