European sales of subcompact cars, Europe’s largest segment by volume, were down just 1% in the first quarter of 2021, in a stable market. 530,000 subcompact (mostly) hatchbacks were delivered in Q1, which means the segment now makes up 18.4% of the European car market, down from 18.6% in the same period last year.
There’s a change of leadership at the top of the charts, with the traditional leader Renault Clio knocked off the segment podium into 4th place with sales down 13%. The new leader is its French rival Peugeot 208, up 20%. In a more surprising second place we find the Toyota Yaris, up 28%. The 208’s platform sibling Opel/Vauxhall Corsa also starts the year strong, up 10% an onto the podium. The Clio is even under threat from the Citroën C3, up 28% on last year as it continues to perform very well even though it’s now one of the oldest models in the top-8. Best performer in the top-12 is the Dacia Sandero thanks to the new generation, which should propel it even higher than sixth place considering its’s still the champion of value-for-money but now combines that with modern technology and design. Biggest losers in the top-15 are the former podium challengers Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta, down to 7th and 8th place with double digit declines. The Skoda Fabia is also down, by 14%, but it will be renewed this year and the new generation will finally be built on the same platform as its siblings Polo and Ibiza. The Spanish VAG sibling is down 9% in Q1 of 2021. As a result, VW Group’s share of the segment drops to 16.6%, down from 19.5% in 2020. Renault-Nissan is down from 23.9% to 21.4% while Stellantis’ share jumps from 27.6 to 32.2%.
Big winner in the class is the Suzuki Swift, but like the Ignis in the minicar class, this is a logical result of a weak start of the year 2020, but also of the addition of Mild-hybrid technology and the killing of its sibling rival the Baleno. The Hyundai i20 has just been renewed but is still down 11% on last year. Biggest loser in the class is the all-electric Renault Zoe, after a partially artificially strong start and finish of 2020. Its sales are down 39% compared to Q1 of last year, which was up 83% on the same period in 2019. Renault also registered a large number of Zoe EVs in Q4 which were still being delivered to buyers in Q1 of 2021, something that you’ll see for a few more nameplates this quarter. At the bottom of the ranking, the Honda e EV is still struggling to make a mark in Europe.
The luxury part of the segment accounts for 9.9% of subcompact car sales in Europe, almost stable on 10% in Q1 of 2020. The Mini stays firmly in control, taking a 9th place overall with sales down just 1%, 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 loses a bit of share with sales down 4% while the Lancia Ypsilon is up 2% 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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