Sales of compact cars in the United States are falling faster than the overall market with a decline of 33% in the first three quarters of 2020, in an overall market down 18%. In the third quarter, compact car sales were down 25% as the overall market lost 9.5%. This translates to 400,000 fewer deliveries in the first nine months of the year. Just three nameplates managed to increase their volume so far this year.
The Honda Civic claims the leadership of the segment from the Toyota Corolla as the former sees its sales fall by 15% in Q3, compared to -30% for the Corolla, -34% for the Hyundai Elantra and -32% for the Nissan Sentra. In the first nine months, both Japanese chart toppers gain market share as they outperform the segment, and each of them sells at least double the volume of the segment #3 Elantra. Best performer in the top-10 is the #5 Kia Forte with sales down 14% YTD (-6% in Q3). That allows the Forte to distance the VW Jetta which was still close behind after the first half of the year. The Subaru Impreza and Mazda3 both lose more than a third of their sales so far this year, with little sign of improvement in Q3. The VW Golf did even worse in the last quarter as it faces a model changeover to the new generation and a reduction of available versions. The Subaru WRX managed a small uptick in Q3.
The Chevrolet Bolt EV is up by 7% and gains 0.6 percentage points of share. It also now outsells the Honda Insight and is the best selling (and only remaining) domestic model in the compact car segment now that the Cruze, Volt, Focus and Dart have been discontinued. The Hyundai Ioniq lost 42% in Q3, while the Nissan Leaf lost 38% in the last quarter, proving once again the struggles of electric cars that aren’t from Tesla.
All luxury compact cars bar the BMW i3 outperform the overall segment, and as a result, the luxury share of the class is up from 4.2% to 6%, still a relatively small share. Best seller among luxury nameplates is the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, in the third quarter it was outsold by the BMW 2-Series. The Gran Coupe version pushes sales of BMW’s smallest nameplate up 70%. The Mercedes-Benz CLA is up 2% for the year but drops from the #2 spot after the first half to fourth place after nine months, relegating its podium to the Acura ILX. The former leader of the segment managed a 5% gain in Q3. The CLA and Audi A3 showed even bigger improvements in the last quarter, but not enough to catch up to the top-3 players. The Mini Clubman recovers in the third quarter with sales down just 2.2% (YTD -24% now), while the BMW i3 is all but dead in the USA.
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