Minicars continue to outperform the overall European car market in the first half of 2021, with sales up 36% in a market up 26%. When compared to the first half of 2019, the minicar segment is down 30% while the overall market is down 22%. This segment now makes up 7.3% of the total European car market, up from 6.7% in the first half of last year. However, their share is expected to return to a decline 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 their only market.
Traditional minicar leader Fiat consolidates its leadership of the class, as its two models have been the top-2 best sellers since 2008, right after the Panda’s relaunch in 2007. Thanks to the addition of Mild-hybrid technology and the EV version of the 500, the Italian brand improves its share of the segment to 37.5%, up from 33.8% in the first half of last year. Especially the Fiat 500 is scoring well again, reclaiming the top spot from its sibling Panda thanks to sales up 69%, making it the best performer in the top-10. Keep in mind that these figures are now the combined sales of two different cars under the 500 name: the well-known retrostyled model that was launched in 2007, now available as a mild hybrid, and the slightly larger EV-only New 500. The Toyota Aygo maintains its podium place, despite trailing the rest of the class with sales up just 29%. It still holds a comfortable lead over the Renault Twingo and Volkswagen Up!. The Twingo is up 8% and the Up! gains 52% and outsold the French hatchback in Q2 by 325 sales. The Kia Picanto and Hyundai i10 are respectively up by 42% and 38%, while the Suzuki Ignis is the second big winner in the top-10, up 64%. It too benefits from a Mild-hybrid version and an unfavorable comparison with last year, when it was down 28% as the brand was holding off sales until the more fuel efficient versions became available later in the year. Still, it’s the best start of a year for the Japanese minicar ever, and it jumps into 8th place. The Citroën C1 and Peugeot 108 are losing share as the brands are preparing to leave the minicar segment later this year.
The Mitsubishi Space Star is down 21% as the brand announced its withdrawal from the European market, a decision that it later overturned, but the Space Star is unlikely to be continued much longer anyway. The next five models are all EVs. The Smart Fortwo more than triples its sales, although that too is more due to an artificial low base in Q1 of 2020. However, this is nonetheless an impressive start of the year considering the Fortwo is now EV-only. Its four-door sibling Forfour is up 160% into 14th place, dividing the two EV-only models of the VW Group triplets. The Seat Mii leapfrogs its sister model Skoda Citigo, with sales more than doubling for the Spanish nameplate compred to a loss of 25% for the Czech version. Combined, the two are up 25% and thus losing share of the segment. The Dacia Spring, the cheapest EV on the market, is still in ramp-up mode, only available to car-sharing programmes before launching to private buyers in the second half of the year when it intends to shake up the segment.
Mitsubishi Space Star
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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