With falling gas prices throughout 2015, small car sales didn't post up the big numbers they have in the past. That being said, there were winners and losers.
Starting with December itself, the biggest increase in sales vs. Dec. 2014 was the Buick Encore which sold more than double the amount of cars it did last year at this time. Mazda's hot-selling Miata continues to post positive year over year gains, and BMW's electrified i3 sold a healthy 40.4% more cars than Dec. '14.
In the loser category for December, the generally unpopular Fiat 500L was down 79%, followed by the Toyota Yaris, and MINI Paceman. I can't speak for the 500L or the Paceman, but I know the Yaris was in very short supply in the latter months of '15.
2015 SUBCOMPACT CAR SALES AS A WHOLE
So which small model sold the most units total this year? That honor goes to the Kia Soul, which moved a whopping 147,113 units, outselling the Nissan Versa by just 2,585 units. A distant third goes to the Buick Encore, which moved 67,549 units.
The slowest sellers? Well the slothiest goes to the MINI Paceman which managed to move just 1,708 units all year. The Honda CR-Z and MINI Cooper /S Convertible round out the bottom three.
Another interesting foot note is that Mitsubishi proved it can also sell a small car, as the rebounding Japanese brand sold a healthy 21,515 units, making it the company's second best selling vehicle after the Outlander Sport. Taking a page out of the Chevy Spark playbook, the miniature Mirage offers four doors, great fuel economy, and popular tech bits. It is still rather Spartan. It's also very inexpensive. The Spark, by the way, was down 16.2% for the year.
However, where some of the cars slowed down in sales, the subcompact crossover segment more than made up for it.
Next time people say U.S. buyers don't like small cars, point them to this blog post. American's love small cars—as long as they're labeled as crossovers and have available AWD.
Case in point? The aforementioned Buick Encore's 67,549 units sold this year. And guess what? Its twin, the Chevy Trax, moved another 63,030 units. As predicted, Jeep's Renegade is killing it thus far and has sold 60,946 models in nine months. Honda's HR-V has sold nearly 42,000 units, too.
If you add in sales of all the subcompact crossovers sold this year (500X, Countryman, CX-3, Encore, HR-V, Juke, Renegade, and Trax), it amounts to more than 293,000 units sold. And if you include the fairly small Subaru Crosstrek, which sold 89,000 on its own, you get more than 382,000 small crossovers sold in 2015. Yes, the subcompact crossover market was smokin' hot in 2015, and I'll be this trend soldiers on into 2016, too.
|Make/Model||% Dec. '15 vs. '14||Units Dec. '15||% YTD Dec. '15 vs. Dec. '14||Units YTD|
|Mazda MX-5 Miata||86.8||706||81.1||8591|
|MINI Cooper /S Hardtop 4 DR||12.0||1247||1026.8||15189|
|MINI Cooper Countryman||10.7||2148||-26.3||16686|
|Toyota Prius c||-6.4||2861||-5.4||38484|
|MINI Cooper /S Convertible||-32.9||147||-12.4||3098|
|MINI Cooper /S Hardtop 2 DR||-68.8||956||-8.0||19778|