Sales of compact cars in the United States are down 28% in the first quarter of 2020, meaning they’re falling at more than double the rate of the overall market, which is down 13%. From a 10% share of the US car market in Q1 of 2019, compact cars now hold just 8.3% as over 110,000 sales disappeared in Q1 of 2020.
The Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic consolidate their leadership of the segment as they improve their combined share of the segment to over 46%, meaning nearly one in every two compact cars in the United States is one of these two nameplates. Their nearest rival from last year, the Nissan Sentra, is down by a shocking 58% as it suffers from a model changeover as well as the brand’s change of strategy to move away from rental fleet sales and focus on retail sales, which we also saw hurt its stablemate Versa in the subcompact class. This has allowed the Hyundai Elantra to move up onto the segment podium despite a 29% decline in sales. And this is before the new 2021 model hit showrooms, which has shown a radical new design that might draw even more buyers to the model. The Elantra’s sister model Kia Forte is the only nameplate in the segment top-9 to actually improve its sales on last year, as it moves past the Volkswagen Jetta. The Subaru Impreza leapfrogs the Mazda 3 as the latter loses nearly half of its sales. Mazda has decided not to offer the latest generation 3 in its base level configurations in search of a more upmarket positioning of its compact model. The launch of the CX-30 crossover probably also didn’t help. The Volkswagen Golf is almost stable on last year, while the best performer in the top-10 is the Chevrolet Bolt EV, with sales up 36% to move past the Subaru WRX and Honda Insight. The Hyundai Ioniq is the third and last nameplate among mainstream models to sell more in Q1 of 2020 than in the same period of last year.
In the luxury part of the segment, which makes up just 5% of the overall compact car class (up from 4.4% in 2020), the newcomer Mercedes-Benz A-Class sedan continues where it started in 2019: on top of the ranking. Its stablemate Mercedes-Benz CLA is in second place despite being replaced by the second generation in Q2. This two-pronged approach appears to be working for the German brand, even though volumes are still relatively small compared to the mainstream players as well as the brand’s crossovers or larger sedans. That pushes the Acura ILX down intro third place despite its relatively strong 13% decline. The Audi A3 and BMW 2-Series also outperform the segment while the Mini Clubman is down 31% to less than 200 sales per month. Sales of the BMW i3 have come to a virtual halt at -93% to just 64 deliveries in Q1.
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