US car sales analysis Q1 2018 – Minicar segment

Chevy Spark regains leadership of the rapidly-shrinking segment

US-sales-minicar-segment-2016-Chevrolet_Spark-Mitsubishi_Mirage

Sales in the US minicar segment fell by 26.0% to 18,779 in the first quarter of 2018, making it the second fastest-shrining segment in early 2018, ahead of only the small sports segment. This performance is a continuation of the segments recent downward trend (it shrank by 20.0% in 2017), and suggests a grim future for the entire segment. Given that all the cars in the segment are either new (Mini Cooper, Chevrolet Spark, Smart ForTwo) or have recently been facelifted (Mitsubishi Mirage, Fiat 500), the falling sales may push some manufacturers to leave the segment (Smart practically has abandoned private sales in the US), and are unlikely to lure any new entrants anytime soon.

Highlights:

  • The new Chevrolet Spark recorded the least-bad performance in the segment, with sales falling by a mere 3%, which was enough to put it at the top of the standings, ahead of Mitsubishi Mirage, whose 26% decline in sales was the worst among the top 3 models
  • After topping the segment last year thanks to a timely sales surge in Q4’17, sales of the Mini Cooper range fell 18% in Q1’18, good enough only for third in the standings
  • Misery continued for Fiat 500, whose facelift in 2017 utterly failed to reignite any interest in the car; with monthly sales below the 500 mark so far this year, the model is on course for annual sales of around 6,000 units, a huge decline from the 43.772 sales peak the model reached in 2012
  • Similarly miserable are the sales figures for Smart ForTwo, hovering around 100 units per month, in about the same league as McLaren

Note: clicking on the model name opens the sales data page for that model; clicking year in the legend turns the display for that year on/off

  1. Some things never change. Americans don’t like small cars. Not surprisingly the two budget models are leading this non-existing segment. Probably because of people who don’t care about cars in general buying their first car. Sure, the Spark is a Chevrolet, but not in the eyes of Americans. It’s just a GM Korean built car meant for markets in which small cars are relatively popular. Each sale in the States is considered by-catch.

  2. The smart is the best kept secret in america. saves me hundreds in parking every month. goes where no other car can in the city. zippy for hauls around 100 miles. on our second one. when i look at a tesla and think of the impact for the environment its lithium batteries and how long they would have to own it to recover what it cost in comparison to a smart I laugh. spending my money on other things of importance and fun.

    1. Do you think smart should offer the forfour electric drive in the States?
      .
      You’re absolutely right. Driving a smart in the city is ideal. In Europe I’ve seen lots of them in Berlin, Rome and Amsterdam. Perhaps not the best option for people who have to drive hundreds of miles each day and/or regularly travel with more than two persons, but with the American federal tax credit the smart fortwo is relatively affordable.

    2. I agree.

      In the future Smart only will make electric cars, I think is the best solution for city cars like this.

  3. The decline of the Fiat 500 was caused by the lack of availability of the model in the dealers’ stocks. Production of 2018 model has just started in Toluca assembly plant. Maybe the model will grow in the second part of the year when there will be full availability

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