Compact cars continue to outpace the overall market in 2021, despite the withdrawal from the segment by domestic brands. Sales of compact cars in the United States are up 6% in 2021, beating the overall market which is up 3%. However, in the fourth quarter the compact class was down 36% vs -21% for the market. Nearly 1.24 million compact cars were sold in 2021, improving the segment’s share of the market to 8.2%, up from 8.0% in 2020. Just two nameplates in the top-15 are down on last year.
The Honda Civic celebrates its 6th year as the compact class leader with sales up just 1%, which drops its share to 21.3%. It only reclaims the top spot from the Toyota Corolla in Q4, as the latter saw its sales drop by more than half in the last quarter of the year. Still, the Corolla is up 5% for the year. The Nissan Sentra reclaims the final podium place with sales up 35%, making it one of the best performing nameplates in the top-10. That knocks the Hyundai Elantra back down to 4th with sales up 18%, allowing its sibling Kia Forte to close in with sales up 36%. In fact, the Forte was the #3 seller in the fourth quarter. The Volkswagen Jetta remains best of the rest, but with sales down 25%, it is under threat from the Toyota Prius, up 36%. Besides the Jetta, the Subaru Impreza is the only other model in the top-15 to see its sales fall in 2021, and by 20%. However, in Q4 the Impreza was up 4% to 6th place overall. Its sporty sibling Subaru WRX is up 28% to complete the top-10.
The Chevrolet Bolt, helped by the addition of the crossover version, is up 20% for the year. However, this disguises the fact that the Bolt only sold 25 copies in Q4 as deliveries were halted until a battery recall is completed. The Bolt stays ahead of the Hyundai Ioniq (+47%) and Honda Insight (+22%) as well as the Nissan Leaf (+49%). The Volkswagen Golf, now only available as the sporty GTI and R versions, drops 64% and was down 83% to just 809 deliveries in Q4.
Luxury compact cars are losing ground in 2021. With sales down 26%, their share of the class dropped from 5.9% to 4.1%. The BMW 2-Series is up 7% for the year (but down 35% in Q4) to distance the Acura ILX which is up 4% (but down 44%in Q4). That puts the 2-Series even above the two Mercedes-Benz models combined, as the A-Class and CLA are down 47% and 38% respectively, with total sales of just under 15,000 units. The A-Class lost two thirds of its volume in Q4. The Audi A3 does even worse at -76%, while the Mini Clubman and BMW i3 remain niche players, even though the latter is down by only 2% for the year (but -69% in Q4).
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