Despite the withdrawal from the segment by domestic brands, compact cars make a strong rebound in 2021. Sales of compact cars in the United States are up 37% in the first half of the year, beating the overall market which is up 29%. Just over 745,000 compact cars were sold in the first six months of 2021, improving the segment’s share of the market to 8.9%, up from 8.4% in the first half of 2020 and from 8.1% in Q1 of this year. Just one nameplate in the top-15 is down on the same period of last year.

The Toyota Corolla had a strong start of the year, but the Honda Civic outsold it in Q2, by 14,000 deliveries. Still, that’s not enough to take back the class leadership as the Corolla is still 2,500 units ahead. In 2020, the Corolla also started on top but had already lost its lead by the end of the first half. The Nissan Sentra is the best performer in the top-6 with sales up 78% on last year when it struggled harder than the rest of the segment. The Sentra’s podium position is under threat from the Hyundai Elantra which took third place in Q2 by selling over 7,000 units more than the Sentra. It’s now less than 4,000 deliveries behind. The Kia Forte also gains share on last year, distancing the Volkswagen Jetta, up just 15%. The Jetta was outsold by the Toyota Prius in Q2 as the Japanese hybrid is the second best performing model in the top-10 after the Chevrolet Bolt which more than doubles up thanks to the addition of a second, more crossover-like bodystyle. General Motors does not publish split sales of the two Bolt version.

The Mazda3 outperforms the overall market but loses share of the segment at +33%, whle the Subaru Impreza is knocked out of the top-10 with sales down 8%, the only nameplate in the red in the top-15. Its sporty sister model WRX is up 38% and combined the two nameplates would be in 8th place. The Hyundai Ioniq more than doubles its sales at +104%, while the Honda Insight also gaisn share at +42% and the Nissan Leaf is up 157%, underscoring the increased popularity of electrified compact cars. The Volkswagen Golf is down 45% as it is changing to the new generation, which will no longer be available in the US as the regular Golf or the station wagon, only in the sporty GTI and R  versions.

Luxury compact cars are losing ground after a strong start of 2021. In Q1 they held 5.1% of the class and in all of 2020 they held 5.9%, but after six months their share has dropped to 4.1% as sales are up just 2% on the first half of 2020. The BMW 2-Series had a great start of the year but has slowed down in Q2, allowing the Acura ILX to lead the segment in Q2 by 1,200 deliveries. The ILX is now just 1,100 units behind the 2-Series. The two Mercedes-Benz nameplates both lose almost a quarter of their sales on last year, while sales of the Audi A3 have fallen flat in Q2 as the brand is preparing for a model change. Audi has confirmed the new generation A3 is coming to North America again, but with the current you wonder if its worth their while. I guess they’ve done their research and have concluded that a compact luxury sedan brings in plenty of new buyers to the brand who may later move up in the brand’s line-up. The BMW i3, considered all but dead just last year, make a strong comeback with sales more than tripling, but it remains

improve their share of the class from 4.8% in Q1 of 2020 to 5.1, although that’s still below the 5.9% figure of the 2020 full year. The BMW 2-Series takes over control of the segment from the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, thanks to the addition of the 2-Series Gran Coupe sedan, which triples its sales of Q1 2020, while the A-Class is down 11% and is under threat from the Acura ILX, up 9%. The Mercedes-Benz CLA is down 28%, but the Audi A3 struggles the most at -41%. The Mini Clubman is down 13% and sells just over 500 units in the quarter, while the BMW i3 bounces back from a horrible start of 2020.

US compact car sales 2021 – first half

Compact segment 2021-H1 2020-H1 Change 2021 Share 2020 Share
1 Toyota Corolla 155.531 109.601 42% 20,9% 20,2%
2 Honda Civic 152.956 127.858 20% 20,5% 23,5%
3 Nissan Sentra 77.859 43.787 78% 10,4% 8,1%
4 Hyundai Elantra 74.057 48.450 53% 9,9% 8,9%
5 Kia Forte 62.159 39.444 58% 8,3% 7,3%
6 Volkswagen Jetta 43.009 37.364 15% 5,8% 6,9%
7 Toyota Prius 38.763 20.483 89% 5,2% 3,8%
8 Mazda3 21.634 16.228 33% 2,9% 3,0%
9 Chevrolet Bolt EV 20.288 8.371 142% 2,7% 1,5%
10 Subaru Impreza 17.165 18.620 -8% 2,3% 3,4%
11 Subaru WRX 14.272 10.333 38% 1,9% 1,9%
12 Hyundai Ioniq 11.107 5.438 104% 1,5% 1,0%
13 Honda Insight 9.867 6.964 42% 1,3% 1,3%
14 BMW 2-series 9.340 5.576 68% 1,3% 1,0%
15 Acura ILX 8.233 5.395 53% 1,1% 1,0%
16 Volkswagen Golf 7.978 14.377 -45% 1,1% 2,6%
17 Nissan Leaf 7.729 3.007 157% 1,0% 0,6%
18 Mercedes-Benz A-Class 5.913 7.801 -24% 0,8% 1,4%
19 Mercedes-Benz CLA 4.696 6.211 -24% 0,6% 1,1%
20 Audi A3 1.330 4.139 -68% 0,2% 0,8%
21 BMW i3 851 252 238% 0,1% 0,0%
22 Mini Clubman 509 1.035 -51% 0,1% 0,2%
23 Chevrolet Cruze 71 682 -90% 0,0% 0,1%
24 Volkswagen Beetle 9 2.332 -100% 0,0% 0,4%
25 Chevrolet Volt 2 62 -97% 0,0% 0,0%
26 Dodge Dart 2 5 -60% 0,0% 0,0%
Segment total 745.330 543.815 37%

Source: Manufacturers.