US car sales analysis 2020 first half – Subcompact cars

In an overall market down 24%, subcompact cars are quickly losing share in the US, with a 52% decline in sales in the first half of 2020, which is the largest decline of all segments across the market, with only large cars even close at -49%. As a result, the segment has gone from a 2.5% share of the US car market last year to just 1.6% now. Low fuel prices and the ever-increasing popularity of crossovers are of course the main factors for this decline, but also a lack of new product. Honda and Toyota have both revealed their plans to exit the segment this year.

Not a single nameplate manages to sell more in 2020 than in the first half of 2019 and only one nameplate is down by a single digit, but in Q2 the best performing model was down 26%. The Kia Soul consolidates its segment leadership despite losing over a third of its sales, as its nearest rival Nissan Versa is down by 59%, due to a model changeover to the new generation which coincides with Nissan’s commitment to reduce fleet sales to rental companies, for which the Versa was a staple product. Versa sales were down 68% in Q2 alone. The Honda Fit gains a sizeable chunk of share with sales down 19% despite the lack of a new generation which is already on the roads in Japan and Europe. This version won’t come to the US as Honda will stop sales of the Fit this year. The Kia Rio is the big winner in the subcompact car segment with sales down just 6% and a doubling of its share to 11.6%. Its platform sibling Hyundai Accent loses almost half of its volume but still grows its share, while the Chevrolet Sonic also outperforms the segment with its 24% loss. The Ford Fiesta is all but dead and the Fiat 500L has already been euthanized. Surprisingly, Toyota is one of the weakest players in this segment, as the Yaris just can’t seem able to strike a chord with buyers. The brand will pull out of the subcompact car segment altogether, meaning the Corolla will be the cheapest Toyota for sale in the US as of next year.

US subcompact car sales 2020 – first half

Subcompact segment 2020 2019 Change Share
1 Kia Soul 34.041 55.583 -39% 33,7%
2 Nissan Versa 19.842 48.700 -59% 19,6%
3 Honda Fit 13.887 17.156 -19% 13,7%
4 Kia Rio 11.747 12.446 -6% 11,6%
5 Hyundai Accent 8.294 14.906 -44% 8,2%
6 Chevrolet Sonic 6.452 8.484 -24% 6,4%
7 Ford Fiesta 3.157 38.116 -92% 3,1%
8 Toyota Yaris 3.714 16.657 -78% 3,7%
9 Fiat 500L 254 399 -36% 0,3%
Segment total 101.134 212.770 -52%

Source: Manufacturers.