Thursday, April 7, 2016

March 2016 Subcompact Sales: Are We Officially in a Small Car Slump?

March 2016 Subcompact Car Sales
We've got three months under our belts in 2016. Is it too early to declare a subcompact sales slump?

Looking at this month's numbers, I'd say it's time to call it. Since fuel prices have plummeted, small car sales have followed suit. This month, of the 25 models listed that have been on sale for at least a year, 19 of them showed decreases in sales compared to this time in 2015. The only models with increases were the Mazda Miata, Mitsubishi Mirage, Chevrolet Trax, Buick Encore, Nissan Versa, and Hyundai Accent. Of those, the Trax and Encore are mechanical twins. Amazingly, the Mirage is up a whopping 65.3% compared to this time last year, too. Maybe people really do want a simple, inexpensive car with a great warranty.

The biggest loser in March was the MINI Paceman. Honestly, I thought they stopped selling them. However, I was able to find 2016 models for sale on MINI lots. MINI sold just 15 units. The car will be discontinued after 2016, but it's still for sale now. BMW's subcompact electric i3 is also skimming the bottom with a -63.9% decline, and the Fiat 500 and 500L are also near the bottom of the list yet again.

It's likely that low fuel prices are to blame for the low overall sales, and as I've mentioned for the last few months, it's likely sales will continue to slide overall.

Right now the Miata is an outlier, since it's a two-door sports car and it's super hot. I fully expect its sales to cool over the year. The smaller CUVs are probably going to continue to sell well because, well, because they're small CUVs and people are in love with them. The Mirage is one of the least expensive cars for sale in the U.S. and it has a fantastic warranty, so it may end up owning that niche. By the way, it outsold the recently redesigned Chevrolet Spark nearly 2:1 this month. It's cars like the Kia Rio, Hyundai Accent, and Ford Fiesta that I wonder about for the long haul.

Hyundai Veloster Turbo

I don't believe small cars are on their way out just yet. The manufacturers always have their pulse on what consumers are buying, and right now it's bigger cars, pickups, and SUVs. Larger cars are getting better fuel economy, too so the demand for the small ones may be, well, smaller. Keep in mind that there will always be room for an entry-level vehicle in certain automakers' lineups. Even when there weren't many small cars for sale back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Toyota still had the Tercel and Echo; Chevrolet still had the Metro; Hyundai still had the Accent. However, without a gas spike or a dip in the economy, small car sales will likely continue to fall until they hit a point where sales level out. The question is which models will survive the drop?

Anyway, here are full stats on March's sales.

Make/Model%YTD Mar. '16 vs. '15 Units Mar. '16% YTD Mar. '16 vs '15Units YTD
Mazda MX-5 Miata104.9109074.42409
Mitsubishi Mirage65.341132.96232
Chevrolet Trax28.3516741.713727
Buick Encore13.7642622.717219
Nissan Versa11.716244-1.336499
Hyundai Accent5.178796.117826
Kia Rio-0.32475-10.55366
Hyundai Veloster-1.6234223.56466
Chevrolet Sonic-3.8470811.612627
Kia Soul-5.4120438.733076
Ford Fiesta-8.14549-10.310863
Nissan Juke-12.02498-16.45871
MINI Cooper /S Hardtop 4 Dr-13.913004.83452
MINI Countryman-16.91281-26.62366
Smart Fortwo-17.8479-15.21300
Chevrolet Spark-30.32273-43.45155
Toyota Prius c-32.32607-25.36633
Honda Fit-33.54771-36.411513
Honda CR-Z-40.8163-22.8483
MINI Cooper /S Hardtop 2 Dr-47.21122-33.33286
Toyota Yaris-51.31227-49.62683
Fiat 500-55.01490-53.03778
Fiat 500L-56.0533-58.01267
BMW i3-63.9332-71.6762
MINI Paceman-86.615-88.330
Jeep Renegade883221951
Honda HR-V639815515
Scion iA32647409
Mazda CX-317484916
Fiat 500X13993964
MINI Cooper/S Clubman10371695


Anonymous said...

Mirage had a 3500 rebate in March...thats a lot given MSRP so its sales ripped. (I bought one). They are bringing out the 2017. Not sure if their momentum (rebates) will be maintain

nlpnt said...

I think the low gas prices are reinforcing the replacement cycle - if you're a two-car household with a 2003-2005 SUV and a 2009-2011 subcompact, it's the big one you're in the market to replace.

Unfortunately, that means people with sticker shock are signing up for ever-longer loans which spells trouble for the market as a whole if the bubble bursts...

Anime Gee said...

People are dumb. Today gas is $5 a gallon & everybody panics about it & they all suddenly want to get a small gas sipping commuter. A couple of months pass by & gas drops to about $2.90. They all now want to unload their small commuters & get a large gas chugging vehicle 'cause hey! Gas is cheap! Then it jumps back up to $5 a gallon a few weeks later & they're all panicking & complaining about how their gas chugging vehicle just loves to chug gas & how they want a small commuter to save gas. Rinse & repeat. Morons... ( ¬_¬)

Barry Traylor said...

Trust me, it is inevitable that the price of gas will rise again. Then once again we will hear the people that bought these land barges crying about how much it costs to fill the tank.