The Minicar segment could not maintain its growth from the first half of the year, and shrank by 9% in the third quarter of 2015 compared to the same period of 2014. This means that so far this year the segment has only grown by 3%, behind the overall sales growth of 5% , and may yet end up shrinking overall by the time 2015 is over. While at least some of this reversal is due to the continuing low gas prices which promote purchases of large cars, one has the feeling that it is also due to the cars available being a rather uninspiring and aging bunch…
Of the lot, the segment leader Mini is arguably the standout, and at 24% it is the only one that recorded any growth in Q3. Still, this is much slower than the 62% it recorded in the first half of the year, and is yet further evidence that simply adding a 5-door version of the model does not double the audience for a car. What the car does seem to have done was to very successfully cannibalize its bigger brother, the Countryman, whose sales were down 42% in Q3.
From the remaining pack it’s the automotive equivalent of a discount fridge, the Mitsubishi Mirage, that did least bad, losing only 3% in sales in the third quarter. With a facelift around the corner that promises to make the car a little bit less dreadful, it may yet threaten the Fiat 500 in 2016. Speaking of the 500, its sales continued falling in Q3 as the facelifted model is being rolled out, but until Q4 sales figures are in we won’t know if the nip n’ tuck has done enough to keep the 8-year-old design fresh against the competition, including its bigger brother, the 500X (selling more than half as many units as the 500 in Q3).
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