Friday, November 11, 2016

Sales: What's the Future of Small Cars in the U.S.?

2017 Nissan Versa Note
2017 Nissan Versa Note
No matter who you voted for, I think we can all agree on one thing: thank God for alcohol we're glad it's over. But from a car enthusiast perspective, specifically small cars, I wonder how the change in presidency will affect things?

2017 Jeep Renegade Deserthawk
Maybe it's me, but over the last several months, it seems like there's been a slowdown in excitement around new small cars, especially subcompacts. Yes, the compact Chevrolet Bolt is big news and the next Honda Civic Si is intriguing. But otherwise, there just doesn't seem to be much big news lately. There are plenty of refreshes, such as the 2017 Nissan Versa above, new trim levels, such as the Jeep Renegade Deserthawk. Maybe I've had some scope creep with Crankshaft Culture and our Jeep. Then again, maybe there just isn't much exciting. Things like new hot hatchbacks, new ground-breaking crossovers.

But rather than going with my gut, let's look at a sample of numbers. While the October '16 vs. October '15 numbers tell a shorter term story, the YTD comparison might be more interesting. Take a look.

October 2016 Subcompact Car Sales

Make/Model% Oct. '16 vs. Oct. '15Units Oct. '16% YTD Oct. '16 vs. '15 Units YTD
Honda Fit266.746415.247896
Toyota Yaris liftback91.7924-43.09081
Hyundai Veloster65.8354819.423633
Honda HR-V57.8659692.364866
Chevrolet Sonic42.84689-14.945798
Hyundai Accent27.4649827.968698
Mitsubishi Mirage24.414890.419239
Kia Rio16.2182619.025991
Mazda CX-312.21550355.015556
Fiat 5008.01276-39.012879
Buick Encore8.0716413.863648
Kia Soul6.513036-3.3120859
Chevrolet Trax6.2867822.662802
Chevrolet Spark3.22066-0.329747
MINI Cooper /S Convertible-2.943029.83751
Ford Fiesta-6.63381-26.642188
Jeep Renegade-9.0724290.084494
MINI Countryman-22.8941-17.310986
MINI Cooper /S Hard Top 4DR-33.6676-23.99601
Nissan Versa-35.78911-6.7115366
Toyota Yaris iA (Scion iA)-36.81160510.524301
Smart ForTwo-42.0418-27.54462
Honda CR-Z-42.7168-19.42032
MINI Cooper /S Hard Top 2DR-44.1772-46.69288
Toyota Prius c-50.71543-46.817436
Nissan Juke-52.4858-26.617072
Mazda MX-5 Miata-53.5500516.78345
BMW i3-55.1442-30.16205
Fiat 500L-59.0119-59.02920
Fiat 500X-61.078363.010047
MINI Cooper /S Clubman11249148
Fiat Spider4441875

Just more than 50% of the makes are selling worse than in 2015, at least as of October. Looking at 2015 vs. 2014 YTD sales at the same time period, there were 24 makes/models on the chart and 15 of them were down, or more than 60%. So perhaps sales aren't as bad as I've perceived them to be. While there's no real measure of excitement, I still feel like there isn't a whole lot of big news out of the segment recently.

So sales don't appear to be on a big slide. However, the segment could use a shot of adrenaline.


Unknown said...

TO me small cars are almost always more exciting! They intrigue me. They handle well generally because they are lighter and nimbler.

Unknown said...

I think what you're missing in your analysis is that there are more small car models than ever, and although the ebb and flow in popularity is going to change relative to the year, overall more small cars are being put onto American roads by the car buying/driving public. Renegade is going to sell over 100k this year and it doesn't look like they're stealing a lot of people from other small cars. The CUV is definitely pulling people out of SUVs and sedans.

Anthony Brush said...

when the small cars have all the required features what buyers want. Demand for small cars will increase as it is easy to handle and light weight.