Minicar sales in the US are falling behind the overall market in the 2021, at -7% vs +3%. In Q4, sales of minicars were only half of the number in the same period the year before, in an overall market down 21%. One reason for this decline is simple: worldwide supply shortages of semiconductors have plagued the industry and reduced production of new vehicles. Manufacturers have prioritized the production of high margin products, while minicars are generally the lowest margin nameplates of a brand. This decline means this is still the smallest segment in absolute terms, by a large margin. Nearly 65,000 minicars were sold in 2021, which is 0.4% of the total passenger car market in the United States, down from 0.5%. This is the lowest annual volume for the class since 2011, when only the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500 were sold.
Of the three surviving nameplates, two outpace the market growth, although that’s largely because 2020 was extra harsh on them. The Chevrolet Spark holds on to its class leadership by just 1,400 sales, as it was hit hard in Q4 when it sold just 1,452 units, down 86%. For the year, the Spark is down 27% and it loses over 10 percentage points of share, to 37.8%. The Mitsubishi Mirage is the big winner in the class with sales up 19%, growing its market share to a record 35.1%. In Q4 the biggest seller was the Mini Cooper with 4,440 deliveries, giving it a total of 17,520 for the year, up 9% and good for a 27% share of the segment.
Somehow, the Fiat 500 found 51 buyers in 2021, of which 33 in the last quarter, despite the fact that the model was discontinued two years earlier and production ended in 2019.
With the minicar segment in decline even in its “home market” Europe, and just irrelevant sales in the United States, the future is bleak for this type of vehicle. Especially considering gas prices are expected to remain low in the foreseeable future and Americans’ appetite for full sized trucks and SUVs, very few people are looking to spend their money on a car this size.
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