The subcompact car segment in Europe was stable at nearly 2,79 million sales in 2018, with sales up by just 800 cars. Europe’s largest segment by volume still accounts for 18% of the total market. The top-3 positions remain the same as they were for the last two years and the top-5 rankings are unchanged from last year. That means the Renault Clio celebrates three years on top of the segment, while it’s due for a redesign in 2019 and its closest two rivals have already been updated last year. As a result, the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta are closing in in the top spot, but have been unable to knock the French model off its throne. The Clio is one of only two models in the top-10 that’s available as a station wagon (together with the Fabia), but that version is expected to be cut for the next generation, so we will see how that influences the fight for the top spot. The Peugeot 208 consolidates its 4th place despite a 5% loss as its closest rival Opel/Vauxhall Corsa is down 7%.
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
That allows the Toyota Yaris and the Dacia Sandero to close in on the Corsa, both with 9% gains, as the former is within 300 sales of the top-5 position. They also both pass the Citroën C3 which improves further on its impressive rebound from last year and celebrates 2 consecutive years above 200.000 sales. The Sandero has never been above that figure and sets a new annual sales record for the fifth consecutive year and has been on a 7-year winning streak starting at 71.700 sales in 2011 and nearly tripling its sales in the last seven years. An incredible success story for the value brand and it will be interesting to follow how high the Sandero can go. The Dacia Logan, which is the sedan and station wagon versions of the Sandero, also continues to outperform the segment at +16% in 13th place. When combining these two nameplates, Dacia would be in third place ahead of the Ford Fiesta with over 274.000 sales.
The Skoda Fabia is stuck in 9th place of the segment and is down 6% but that means it outperforms its much fresher sibling Seat Ibiza, which is the big loser in the top-15 with sales down 13% despite being in only the first full year of sales for the current generation. The Hyundai i20 also underperforms and is unable to benefit from the Ibiza’s struggles to finally steal a top-10 finish, but that’s still much better than its sibling Kia Rio, of which an all-new generation has been launched in 2017 but the model lost more than a third of its volume and after 4 years of growth by the outgoing model is now down to its lowest sales since 2012. The launch of the Stonic small crossover doesn’t explain this sudden loss, as the latter is 33% more expensive and priced similarly to the larger Ceed hatchback.
The Nissan Micra loses in 2018 after surging the year before thanks to the new generation. The Suzuki Swift is going in the opposite direction: after a slow start for the new generation when sales dipped to the lowest since 2004, sales finally pick up traction and surge 44% to the model’s best volume since 2012. Its sibling Baleno dips 16% after a strong 2017. The Ford Ka+ manages to maintain stable sales, while the all-electric Renault Zoe continues to improve every year since its launch and moves past the Mazda2 and Fiat Punto to claim 18th place with a 25% increase in sales.
As mentioned above, we expect the new generation Clio in 2019 as Renault pulls a trick from the VW Group hat by changing every panel of sheetmetal but still managing to make the new model look almost exactly like the outgoing. It works for Audi and for the Golf, so why mess too much with what’s obviously a successful design? The same recipe will be applied to the second generation Zoe which is also due this year, but especially for the latter it’s way more important what changes under the hood. Especially since PSA will renew the and Corsa and both will be available as EVs as well, offering the first real competition for the Zoe, together with the upcoming Honda Urban EV. The Yaris will have to soldier on for another year as we don’t expect its next generation in showrooms before 2020 and as far as a potential replacement for the Fiat Punto, I’m not even going to try and guess a timeline. If it happens at all….
Also check out the subcompact segment in the US, which is in fast decline with 20% losses for the second consecutive year as only two models manage to improve: the soon-to-be-killed Fiesta and the Rio which has better luck than on this side of the pond.
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