European sales of subcompact cars, Europe’s largest segment by volume, were 21% in the first half of 2021, in a market up 26%. When compared to the first half of 2019, subcompact cars are down 29% in a market down 22%. With 1.18 million subcompact (mostly) hatchbacks delivered in the first six months, the segment now makes up 18.2% of the European car market, down from 19% in the same period last year.
If the Peugeot 208 flamboyantly took the top spot of the class in Q1 of this year, it manages to defend that position all through the second quarter as well. However, it has just a 700-car lead over the Toyota Yaris, with the Renault Clio another 700 deliveries behind again. And in Q2, the Clio sold almost 7,500 more than the 208 and the Yaris sold over 3,500 more than the 208 and even the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa outsold it by almost 2,000 cars, so the little lion is not sitting comfortably on the rock. The Clio looks set to retake the class leadership by the next quarter, but it too must have been surprised by the shock success of the new generation Yaris which is up 50% on the first half of last year while the Clio is actually down 6%. The Corsa is knocked off the podium place it took in Q1 of this year but stays a title contender, less than 5,000 deliveries off the top spot. Speaking of a tight race! The Dacia Sandero regains its spot ahead of the Citroën C3 thanks to the success of its new generation. The C3 was also outsold by the Volkswagen Polo in Q2 but holds a comfortable gap to the #7, formerly a podium contender. And the Ford Fiesta also used to be a regular on the podium, even leading the class from 2012 until 2015, but is now down to 8th place with sales down 10% on last year.
The Skoda Fabia completes the top-10 but loses share of the segment, the main reason being the new generation that will arrive in showrooms in the second half of this year, when it will finally be built on the same platform as its siblings Polo and Seat Ibiza. It does manage to outsell the latter, which is up 46% just when a minor facelift is planned. Thanks to the Ibiza, VW Group’s share of the segment only drops to 18.1%, from 18.5% in the first half of 2020. Renault-Nissan is down from 26.5% to 22.5% while Stellantis’ share jumps from 26.8% to 30.1% even without much help from Fiat.
The Suzuki Swift is the best performing nameplate in the class with sales up 59% but like the Ignis in the minicar class, this is a logical result of a weak start of the year 2020. The addition of Mild-hybrid technology and the killing of its sibling rival the Baleno help the Swift as well. The Hyundai i20 is closing in on the Swift thanks to the new generation, but the Renault Zoe outsold them both in Q2. The all-electric hatchback is still down 14% on the first six months of 2020, though. It’s hurt by the manufacturer’s decision to register unsold inventory at the end of 2020 in order to reduce its corporate average fuel economy and avoid penalties. You’ll see another few victims of these strategies in some of the other segments. The other all-electric model in the class, the Honda e, remains a niche player, only outselling the UK-only MG3.
The luxury part of the segment accounts for 10.5% of subcompact car sales in Europe, up by a full percentage point on the first half of 2020 as all three nameplates gain market share. The Mini stays firmly in control, taking a 9th place overall and gaining share with sales up 31%, helped by the addition of the electric version. The hardtop, 4-door and convertible as well as the EV will be updated this year. The Audi A1 also gains a bit of share with sales up 31% as well. Audi has already announced that this generation A1 will be the last as it is not developing an all-electric successor. The Lancia Ypsilon is the best performing luxury subcompact so far this year with sales up up 45% thanks to yet another facelift and the addition of a mild hybrid version.
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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