Sales in the compact segment fell by 6% compared to Q1 2015, the second-worst performance from among all mainstream segments, better only than the minicar segment. While one could be inclined to continue the narrative that it’s the low gas prices that are driving consumers to the segment above, my feeling is that few consumers are abandoning compact cars from mid-sized ones for economy reasons. Rather, the compact segment is full of aging cars that are nearing their retirement, with only the hot (sales-wise) new Honda Civic, refreshed Nissan Sentra and niche Scion iM providing any new blood. But, unlike for the subcompact segment there is hope on the horizon in the form of a refreshed Toyota Corolla, as well as a new Chevy Cruze, Hyundai Elantra and Subaru Impreza.
Highlights for Q1 2016:
The new Honda Civic, on the back of a 31% growth in sales compare to Q1 2015, crowns its return to form by taking making Q1 2016 the third quarter in a row that it had outsold its arch-rival Toyota Corolla
The refreshed Nissan Sentra is equally a big hit with the customers, rising from 6th to 3rd spot on the back of a 23% increase in sales, equally Q4 2015 as the highest position ever reached by the model
Sales of the Hyundai Elantra and Chevy Cruze both suffered badly as the new models are slowly phased in, with sales declines of 31% and 39%, respectively
Sales of the VW Jetta held up surprisingly well given how the company’s reputation in the US is in tatters, though hefty financial discounts VW is throwing at customers can probably take a large part of the credit
Models that did not hold up so well compared to last year include Dodge Dart, with consumers presumably looking elsewhere on the back of the news that the brand will discontinue the model before long, and Mazda3, which like the rest of Mazda’s range suffered weak sales in Q1 2016
After a year of astonishing growth in 2015, sales of VW Golf have leveled out for now
The new Scion iM (aka European Toyota Auris) could only manage second-to-last spot, outselling only Fiat 500L, with sales certainly not helped by Toyota’s decision to pull the plug on the Scion brand this year
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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