US sales Q3 2017: Compact segment

Compact segment continues its slow declineUS-sales-compact_car-segment-2016-Chevrolet_Cruze-Honda_Civic-Nissan_Sentra-Hyundai_Elantra-Mazda3

The compact segment continued its slow decline, with sales falling by 2% in the third quarter of 2017. So far this year sales have declined by 3.4% to 1,709,103, which may not be great, but it has allowed the segment to open a commanding lead of almost 200,000 units compared to the mid-sized segment, with which it was pretty much even this time last year. While there aren’t any new models that will hit the market in the next half a year, the segment may yet bounce up as the period after that promises a lot of new metal: Ford Focus and VW Jetta are about to be replaced, while a new Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla are likely to be not far behind. In the meantime, there is a lot of excitement about the alternative power cars of compact size, with the new electric Chevrolet Bolt and the PHEV Toyota Prius Prime in particular starting to make a meaningful dent in the sales figures.

Highlights for Q3 2017:

Honda Civic
  • There is no change in the Top 3, with Honda Civic extending its lead over Toyota Corolla, while Nissan Sentra retains its third place despite being ready for a replacement
  • Right behind them the new Chevrolet Cruze finally has found traction, and with 8% higher sales than in 2016 leaps over Hyundai Elantra and the aging Ford Focus, both of which suffer double-digit sales declines
  • Just as the Elantra proves that new is not necessarily best, Kia Forte leaps over VW Jetta and the new Subaru Impreza into seventh spot, with the new Subaru in particular disappointing with a 13% sales drop in Q3’17
  • Right behind Mazda3 suffers yet another double-digit sales drop in the third quarter, and is under threat by the surging VW Golf, whose sales are doubtless helped by the Alltrack raised 4WD wagon version
  • Sales of the the hybrid Toyota Prius liftback fall by over a third compared to 2016, and behind those of the Golf, and they are only partially compensated by the new Prius Prime PHEV version, which in turn came within a whisker of outselling its main rival, the Chevrolet Volt
  • The other alternative power models in the compact segment did OK, considering new entrants and gas prices that are still not that high, though some did better than others: Ford C-Max is down only 9% (not bad for an old model) and the about-to-be-replaced Nissan Leaf is up 16%, but the new Hyundai Ioniq disappoints by lagging so far behind the Prius liftback, and only just outsells the aging Prius V (which is also down almost a third)
  • Of the remaining models the best performance came from the Toyota Corolla iM (sales up 23%), once again proving that the Toyota brand is worth more to buyers than the defunct Scion brand, and VW Beetle (sales up 12%); Mitsubishi Lancer is just about hanging in there (sales down 8%), while the performance of the Fiat 500L (sales down by more than a half) emphasizes that no amount of lipstick can make this piggy attractive

Note: “AP” designates models that are classified in the Alternative Power segment, presented here for comparison; 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