Sales of compact cars in the United States are down by a worrying 16% in 2019, and the segment is down 1.6 percentage points of share of the total US car market, to 9.7%. It now holds 35% of the sedan market in the US, down from 36.8% in 2018. The Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla consolidate their leadership thanks to stable sales while their closest two rivals both see their sales drop by double digits. The Civic and Corolla are now not only the only two nameplates to sell over 300,000 cars each, but also the only ones to sell over 200,000 cars, with the Nissan Sentra and Hyundai Elantra both dropping below that threshold as both are down by 13%. The Civic and Corolla together hold 38% of the compact car segment (39.7% of non-luxury compact cars), up from 32% in 2018. We lose three members of the 100k sales club, as the Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze have been killed by their manufacturers and the Kia Forte dropped below that mark despite falling slower than the overall segment. We do welcome a returning member after a 1-year absence with the Jetta back above 100,000 sales again, allowing it to jump from 8th in 2018 to 5th in 2019. Sales of the Toyota Prius continue to drop as the brand keeps introducing hybrid versions of its other models, which results in the nameplate’s lowest sales figure since 2004 after seven years of consecutive declines, from its peak of over 236,000 sales in 2012 to just under 70,000 sales in 2019.
Both Subaru models are down by double digits, but whereas the Impreza manages to do slightly better than the rest of the segment at -13%, the WRX loses almost a quarter of its sales. The Mazda3 is down despite the new model, but that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering the brand has raised its prices considerably with the model change. As a result, sales of especially the base versions have suffered, but the higher end versions have actually gained popularity, meaning Mazda has offered volume for profitability. The Volkswagen Golf is also down but does better than the segment as a whole, despite being in the last year of its current generation. However, these figures hide the fact that 2019 was the best year ever for the e-Golf at 4,863 sales (compared to 5,644 for the regular Golf hatchback, and 12,365 for the Nissan Leaf EV), and the second-best ever year for the Golf R at 4,223 sales, after the 4,493 sales in 2016. VW has not yet announced which versions of the 8th generation Golf will make its Stateside, but the GTI, R and e-Golf are generally expected to survive, while the regular Golf hatchback and SportWagen are expected to be cut. Ford has already abandoned the segment altogether by not bringing the new generation Focus to the US.
The Honda Insight reaches over 23,000 sales in the first full year of the current generation, which is a new record for all three generations of the nameplate and ahead of the Hyundai Ioniq, which improves by 30% to also set a new sales record. Ioniq sales are still for over 90% the hybrid version, with the Plug-in hybrid and EV struggling to find more than a few dozen buyers per month. The VW Beetle, in its last year of production, is up 19%, and this is all thanks to the Convertible version which improves nearly 65% while the Coupe version is down 10.8%. As a result, 2019 is the first year that sales of the topless Beetle have exceeded those of the hardtop version. The Chevrolet Bolt EV is already past its peak at -9% but at least improves its share of the segment, which helps the EV share of the compact car segment improve from 1.9% in 2018 to 2.2% in 2019. The Nissan Leaf EV is down 16%, like the overall segment, while BMW i3 loses 21% and the Toyota Mirai Hydrogen Fuel Cell EV is down 12%.
In the luxury part of the segment, which makes up just 4.4% of the overall compact car class, the newcomer Mercedes-Benz A-Class sedan immediately claims the lead with over 17,600 sales, but it cannibalizes sales of the CLA, which is down 45%. It will be interesting to see how these two models compete when the CLA is also renewed in 2020. The Acura ILX enjoys a 30% growth thanks to the facelift and a price cut, but it’s still well below its peak years of 2013-2015. The A-Class and ILX are keeping the luxury compact car segment stable on 2018 as all other nameplates are down by double digits. The Audi A3 is starting to show its age with a decline of 43% but manages to stay ahead of the BMW 2-Series, down 13%.
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