The minicar segment in Europe reverses its decline in the second quarter of 2019 as European car buyers took delivery of nearly 340.000 minicars, a 2% gain on 2018 and leading to a 1% loss in the first half, compared to an overall market loss of 3,6%. After a dip below the 30% mark in Q1, Fiat’s dominance in this segment rebounds to 31,2% in Q2 with its two models. The Fiat 500 manages to outsell its sibling Fiat Panda by a slight margin, but not enough to reclaim the segment crown for the first half of the year. These two models are surprisingly resilient considering the 500 is in its 12th year without any major redesign and the Panda in its 8th year but is still the best performer in the segment top-10 for the first half of 2019. Surprisingly, the #3 best selling minicar in Europe in the second quarter was the Renault Twingo, helped by the recent facelift of the model. As a result, the Twingo has passed the long-time #3 of the segment Volkswagen Up! in the first-half ranking to claim 4th place behind the Toyota Aygo, after the Japanese model already leapfrogged the Up! in Q1.
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The Up! and its sister models Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii are already 7,5 years old by now without any major updates, and especially the former appears to have finally run out of steam, while the latter two are perhaps boosted by the news that their petrol-powered versions will be phased out soon and they’ll be turned into EV-only models, a fate that also awaits the Up! with a bit of a delay. Faced with a similar fate, the Smart Fortwo manages to keep its sales stable in the last year that the model will be sold with gasoline engines and it even manages to move past the Peugeot 108. The Kia Picanto continues to do well after its redesign of last year, while its sibling model Hyundai i10 is starting to fall behind as it too will be renewed later this year.
The Opel Karl/Vauxhall Viva will be discontinued later this year but sell-out deals to clear inventory help the model to an 8th place in Q2 to enter the segment top-10, a position it hasn’t held before. That knocks down the Citroën C1 despite a stable performance of that model. That means the PSA-Toyota triplets maintain a 16,3% share of the segment in the first half, staying ahead of the Renault-Smart triplets at 14,5% (down from 14,8% in H1 of 2018) and the VW Group triplets at 11,1% (down from 11,7% in H1 of 2018). Like the Karl/Viva, the Opel/Vauxhall Adam will be phased out by Opel/Vauxhall’s new owner PSA and in fact production ended in May. The Adam had a great first quarter thanks to sell-out pricing, but stocks are starting to dry up as sales were down again in Q2.
The Suzuki Ignis loses 12% in the first half and its sibling Celerio is the biggest loser of the segment at -32% while the Mitsubishi Space Star continues to improve for the third consecutive year and in fact is the segment’s top performer in the first half of the year with a 17% improvement, thanks to a 33% boost in Q2. The surprisingly resilient electric citycars Peugeot iOn, Citroën C-Zero and Mitsubishi i-MiEV at last see an end to their comeback in the late stages of their life cycle, as combined sales are down 7,7% in the first half
There won’t be a lot of news in the minicar segment this year. The i10 will be renewed and the 500 and Panda will (finally) be updated and will receive mild hybrid versions and even an electric 500e for Europe. The two Smart nameplates as well as the Mii and Citigo will be turned into EV-only models.
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