In 2019, sales of minicars were down 2% compared to a total market gain of 1% which means this segment now makes up 7.7% of the total European car market at 1.21 million sales, down from 8% in 2018. And with margins on minicars under pressure due to increased costs to comply with stricter safety and emissions standards, manufacturers are scaling back investments in to minicars or switching to an EV-only strategy. VW Group has announced that this is the plan for its triplets as the Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii will turn into all-electric cars by January 2020 and the VW Up! will follow shortly. Smart registered its remaining unsold petrol-powered Fortwo and Forfour models at the end of 2019 to prepare for an EV-only 2020, the Forfour’s sister model Renault Twingo will get an electric version as well, Fiat will launch the next generation 500e in Europe as well and Toyota has hinted that the next generation Aygo might go EV-only as well. Its sister models from PSA will split from the Japanese brand and may join forces with Fiat, but rumors are that the Italians who have ruled the minicar segment for decades may abandon it altogether to move up a segment to the subcompact class. Opel has already left the segment, which means only the South-Koreans, Suzuki and Mitsubishi might remain as traditional minicar sellers.
In 2020, the Fiat Panda reclaims the segment lead from its sibling Fiat 500 while the Italian brand improves its share of the segment from 28.7% to 29.6%. The traditional #3 of the class VW Up! is down 18% and drops two spots into fifth place as the Toyota Aygo and Renault Twingo move up thanks to improved sales. The Hyundai i10 is down 5% as the new generation arrives early 2020 while the Smart Fortwo is up 25% thanks to self-registrations in the last quarter to clear stocks of ICE versions. In Q4 the Fortwo was the #3 best seller of the segment, but expect it to plummet down the ranking in 2020 as a result of it. The Kia Picanto is stable despite being on of the freshest models in the class, while the Peugeot 108 and Citroën C1 siblings are down by single digits. The Opel Karl/Vauxhall Viva ends the year down slightly, but its Q4 sales were just 455 units as the bulk of the remaining stocks were cleared by Q3 as PSA is discontinuing models that are still based on GM technology and not its own. That has also affected the Opel/Vauxhall Adam, which was down by a quarter for the year but had virtually zero sales in Q4. There are no concrete plans for Opel/Vauxhall to return to this segment.
The Suzuki Ignis is down 13% as a facelift is coming up early 2020, the Mitsubishi Space Star enjoys its best year ever in Europe with a record 38,000 sales. The Skoda Citigo is down 16% and found fewer than 2,100 buyers in Q4 while the Seat Mii is down just 3% but sold just 1,200 units in the last quarter as they’ll be only available as EVs from now on. The Suzuki Celerio will be pulled from the European market and ironically the Mitsubishi-PSA EV triplets are also at the end of their life cycle, but honestly they’ve held up longer than I would’ve expected to.
Also check out minicar sales in the US, where Europe’s #11 Chevrolet Spark (the Karl/Viva’s sibling) beats Europe’s #13 Mitsubishi Mirage (sold as the Space Star in Europe) for the top 2 spots.
Opel Karl / Vauxhall Viva
Mitsubishi Space Star / Mirage
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