Sales of subcompact cars rebounded slightly in the fourth quarter of 2016, growing by 2 percent relative to Q4’15, allowing the segment to cut the annual fall in sales to 3 percent. This is a very respectable performance for a segment where most cars are older designs, either in the second half of their life-cycle (Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris) or about to be replaced (Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio). And while the segment still only sells less than a third of what the Compact segment manages, 2016 is notable as the first time that the Subcompact segment outsold the Minivan segment over the course of a year.
Highlights for 2016:
Kia Soul and Nissan Versa continued to dominate the segment, selling more than twice the number of cars than any model placed fourth or lower in the rankings, with Soul opening up a gap on the Versa relative to their position in 2015
Despite their age, Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio both enjoyed a remarkable growth in the second half of the year (sales up 59 and 50 percent, respectively), propelling the Hyundai up two place to third in the year-end rankings
On paper the growth enjoyed by Honda Fit in the second half was even more impressive (sales up 71 percent), but this was driven primarily by sales in the second half of 2015 being artificially depressed by supply shortages; overall, sales in 2016 were only 7 percent up on 2015
Chevy Sonic and Ford Fiesta, models on the cusp of being replaced, did not enjoy nearly as good of a year as their the Accent and Rio – they both lost double-digit sales compared to 2015, and ranked two places lower as they were jumped in the rankings by the small Hyundai and the Fit
Toyota iA, a model inherited from Scion following that brand’s closure, did relatively well given the model changeover, though the 185 percent growth rate is mainly due to the fact that the model only went on sale in Q3’15
At the same time, the internal competition seems to have affected the sales of Toyota Yaris, though in all fairness the erratic sales patterns over time suggest Toyota itself is unsure of what to do with this model (e.g. sales of 7,364 in Q2’15 collapsed to 1,244 in Q4’15, before recovering somewhat in 2016)
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
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