European sales of minicars were down by a third in 2020, which translates to nearly 400,000 fewer sales and means the segment loses market share as the overall market is down 24%. As a result, this segment now makes up 6.8% of the total European car market, down from 7.7% last year. And their share is expected to shrink further in coming years, as manufacturers are pulling out of this segment or switching their models to EV-only. This is a result of increasing costs to comply with stricter safety and especially emissions standards, which makes minicars nearly unprofitable, especially considering that for most models from European brands this is the only market.
Only two brands are responsible for 42% of the segment’s decline, as Opel/Vauxhall pulled out its two models Adam and Karl/Viva from the market in the second half of 2019, while Smart changed its strategy to EV-only at the end of 2020. The top-4 of the segment all outperform the overall market despite double digit declines. The Fiat Panda continues to lead the segment ahead of its sibling Fiat 500. The Italian duo actually manages to expand its share of the class from 29.6% in 2019 to 35.2%, thanks to the addition of mild hybrid versions of both as well as an all-new and all-electric 500e. The Toyota Aygo prolongs the podium position it took from the Volkswagen Up! in 2019, with the Renault Twingo in tow. Toyota is one of the few manufacturers still dedicated to the A-segment in Europe, and a third generation of the Aygo will be launched later in 2021. It will no longer be part of triplets, as the Japanese have bought the shares of the factory that PSA held, and the Peugeot and Citroën will get out of the small car business.
Despite the arrival of an all-new generation which accounted for 81% of its annual sales, the Hyundai i10 is the biggest loser in the top-10 with sales down 36%, just ahead of its sibling Kia Picanto, down 34%. The Peugeot 108 and Citroën C1 are not yet affected by the decision of their parent company to axe them in 2021, as the two not only outperform the segment but the overall market. Best performer in the class is the Suzuki Ignis with sales down just 1% to gain 1.5 percentage points of share. It’s been a rocky ride for the Ignis this year, with sales down 31% in the first half, followed by a strong recovery after the new mild hybrid version finally became available.
The next best performer is the Mitsubishi Space Star at -6%, moving up to 11th place. Now being an EV-only model, the Smart Fortwo is knocked out of the top-10 with sales down by three quarters, while its sibling model Forfour is down even worse at -79%. The Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii also were initially turned into EV-only models in 2020 and quickly sold out, before Skoda pulled the plug on the Citigo. Seat is expected to restart production of the Mii electric in 2021.
Among other electric citycars, the Citroën C-Zero had a big revival, almost doubling its sales to make its last full year of sales also its second best ever, just when its siblings Peugeot iOn and Mitsubishi i-MiEV dwindled. The Dacia Spring lands with its first 1,724 registrations in December 2020, but since customer deliveries of Europe’s cheapest electric car aren’t scheduled to start in the second half of 2021, we suspect these are demonstration vehicles for press, as well as an order for one or more car sharing services.
Mitsubishi Space Star
Opel Karl / Vauxhall Viva
Car sales statistics are from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.
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