By on July 8, 2010

Kia’s Soul didn’t have the most electrifying launch sales-wise, but with the release of its second buzz-worthy ad, the funky little box is becoming a major player in our A/B/Small Hatch segment. The Nissan Versa is clearly the dominant player here, selling nearly twice as well as the Soul. Meanwhile, there’s a tight pack of offerings that have moved at least 20k units this year, that ranges from the aged HHR to the MINI Cooper. Look for a big shake-up in this segment once Ford’s Fiesta production hits high gear.

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46 Comments on “June Sales: Subcompacts And Small Hatches...”


  • avatar
    redmondjp

    Wow. Look at where the VW Golf is on this list! Granted that the current Golf has almost nothing in common with its prior incarnations.

    Volkswagen has certainly lost their way – 30 years ago they owned this segment of the market (which the Japanese makers took over shortly thereafter).

    There’s something wrong with putting the PT Cruiser and the Smart on the same list IMO – these two vehicles couldn’t be more different, especially when you consider that the PT Cruiser is considered by Chrysler to be a light truck (and has light-truck fuel economy to match) so they could get their truck CAFE numbers up.

    • 0 avatar
      Robbie

      It’s the rest of the world’s favorite car; and we are not VW’s focus. We drive huge cars compared to the rest of the world. Also, they are importing Golfs from Germany at a time of a very expensive euro.
      If oil prices go up to $120 a barrel, and the euro depreciates, then the story will be radically different.

    • 0 avatar
      EEGeek

      The numbers for Golf/GTI are wrong – should be 2,770 & YTD 14,836, per VW’s press release. I guess US buyers are just not real big on hatchbacks. More for me, I guess.

      Since this a weird category anyway (Golf/GTI was also included in the C-segment count for VW), why not add the “New” Beetle to VW’s hatchback tally, and lump all the Scions (including the hatchback tC) together?

      It boggles my mind that Mini sells as many of their overpriced retro-mobiles as they do. To me those cars are nothing but style over substance for people with more dollars than sense.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacfan

      I believe euro came down quite a bit from recent levels. At least Heineken is now cheaper than many domestics.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Scion sales are truly dismal. Give it up already, just sell them as Toyotas.

    • 0 avatar
      Sammy B

      Agree. The xD barely outsold the SX4! Two choices at this point:

      1) Either fold them into Toyota (or outright kill the xD)
      2) Really go the other direction and make the cars unique. Like straight JDM. Move the steering wheel over and be done with it (mostly). There needs to be a reason to exist or this is just Geo all over again. And with SO MANY JDM or other non-US cars to pick from, Toyota really could bring us something cool. It’ll be worthwhile even if they only sell a couple thousand a month.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The Fiesta, which was only on sale for about three days last month, sold in the same neighborhood as the xB and xD that were available all month. Yes, Toyota needs to do something…

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      So in 2-3 months we should expect Yaris/Fit to be feeling the heat…

      Nice.

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      Makes me almost consider an xD for its relative rarity. Almost! I just wouldn’t want to be associated with an idiot fashion brand created by idiot marketers for ‘cool kids’ by the biggest boring-est car company. But I would have no problem buying a ‘Toyota’…

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper

      They SHOULD just sell them as Toyotas ! I believe the problem W/ the xD’s sales are partially the result of the “pay one price” policy that Scion has. How many people walk into a dealership were they can Bargin for a car (Yaris)or just pay full price (xD) and choose to pay full price? Saturn is DEAD for the same reason.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I can’t imagine why Toyota would fold them into the lineup as they are. It would be a lot of duplication, which I’m sure they want to avoid. Scion’s days as the Japanese Mercury have got to be coming to an end, although ToMoCo could afford to keep up the illusion.

      Seeing how well the Mini continues to sell, I’m anticipating seeing the sales numbers for the Fiat 500 once it gets established on these shores. Along with the stellar numbers that the Versa is putting out, I think that people are getting past the ‘default’ choice of a Corolla or Civic as the choice of small car. I would think this trend would be favorable for Ford’a Fiesta, too. The Kia Soul hasn’t really begun to hit it’s stride as the cool kid’s Scion xB.

      What amuses me is the fact that the HHR sells in such great quantities, even though it hasn’t had a major update in 5(?) years. For the “me too” cruiser, they’re doing something right.

      We’ve had almost 30 years of near hegemony in small car choices in the US, either domestic or Japanese and little else. It will be good to see how these new car models affect future sales.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Scion would do better if Toyota had stuck to the original plan: use them as a clearinghouse for Daihatsus and make up the margin on bling.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Clearly, the Scion brand should be eliminated.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniorMint

      In June 2006, the year it was discontinued, the original xB’s peak reached 6000 units sold. I remember because this has been my benchmark for the new xB, which has yet to reach those numbers (despite greater distribution)

      It is entirely possible that going back to the original model would solve all of Scion’s problems in one go.

  • avatar
    EChid

    Nissan is doing unbeliebably well with the Versa. I was not expecting it to do so well, since it seems kind’ve ugly and bland. But hey, perhaps its softer suspension also endears city goers on rough streets?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The Versa is roomy, comfortable, cheap and efficient. I’d hazard it’s a better car than most of the class above it, and it’s certainly better than the Sentra and possibly better than the Corolla/Matrix.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      The Versa is cavernous compared to it’s competition and has a 6-speed manual standard. It has been quite popular around here (New Mexico) with folks that really want to have NEW but have a very small budget. The soft suspension with our crappy roads have probably helped sales too.

    • 0 avatar

      Wow! Looks like there are plenty of reasons for Americans to like their Gallic ride…
      Again, do Americans realize what its origins are?
      If so, do they care?
      If they don’t, if they did, would it hurt the car?

      My take it’s that it’s a fine car. Looks a little narrow though. And ultimately it’s a little cold. Little personality. And it’s way to expensive down here. Something over 33 thousand dollars.

      Sigh.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Marcelo, most Americans don’t realize that Nissan and Renault are holding hands, let alone sharing platforms. Would it hurt the car if they knew? I can’t say, when Peugeot exited the market (last French make sold in USA, right?) it was selling in such small # most Americans don’t remember that it existed. I wonder how many people scratched their heads at the song “American Boy” when it was released in 1990 by Country Artist Eddie Rabbitt.

      “I’m an American boy.
      Drive me a chevy aint got no Peugeot.
      My older brother was a gi-joe.
      Red white and blue from my head to my.
      Toes
      I’m an American boy.”

      I’ll bet half the country audience scratched their heads and went “Peugeot, wtf is a Peugeot?” Still didn’t stop the song from hitting #11 on the Country Charts.

    • 0 avatar
      EChid

      I live in Ottawa, ON (land of public servants) and there are simply loads of them around. The roads are aweful around here, so the Mazda 3 I drive is often punishing. Its also not a particularly good highway car, so if the Versa improves on both of those things, I can understand its popularity.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Is the Versa French in origin? I was aware of the Nissan/Renault tie-up, but I always assumed the Versa was based off of some JDM Nissan platform. Wikipedia doesn’t seem to state that it is a French design, just something shared between Nissan and Renault, can anyone else share some more light on this?

      I never really saw the resemblance with the Twingo (which btw is just and awful name for a car, it makes me think ‘Twink’ every time I see it) until now.

    • 0 avatar

      @NulloModo

      AFAIK, the Versa is a Renault Clio (3rd generation IIRC) in Japanese sheetmetal.

      The platform is called BO, which a is much improved version of the B platfrom, which underlies cars like Renault/Dacia Logan/Sandero, Nissan Livina.

      Proof positive is the 1.6 16v engine, which we’ve had iin Brazil since at least the mid 90s. It’s a Renault design through and through. Here in Brazil, the locally produced Nissan Livina uses the 1.6 and the 1.8 (like Versa in America, I believe). The 1.8 is Nissan, but uses Renault’s flex fuel technology.

      When this car (livina) was launched, Nissan took pains to distance the 1.6 from its Renault’s origin, saying that the CPU was Japanese. Well, that may be true, but the car’s platform, engine and most suspension bits and everything else were developed by the French. Nissan, even if they really did redo the car’s computer, added their design and called it a day.

      Didn’t you ever consider the car to have an-ass-up-in-the-air stance? And isn’t that considered a French design par excellence?

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      The Versa is also sold to many fleets. Enterprise and many other rental car companies carry commonly carry the Aveo, Yaris and Versa models. The only time I could rent a Fit was in Puerto Rico.

    • 0 avatar
      mythicalprogrammer

      Me too. I thought the Versa’s ugliness would kill sell. Especially since they ignored the Sport Concepts for this Versa style.

      Go Nissan woohoo!

      Got stocks in Nissan ^_^.

  • avatar
    twotone

    Looks like Ford needs to do a lot of work to be competitive in this product niche.

    Twotone

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      If by ‘a lot of work’ you mean build more cars, then yes, as the Fiestas are selling as fast as they hit the lot right now. Again, those numbers are based on three or so days of sales, and this month they will likely still be constrained due to product availability.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      @Nullo:
      Why didn’t Ford anticipate that a dealer might want more than one Fiesta every week shortly after the car’s launch? My local Ford dealer hasn’t even received their first Fiesta yet.

      People are seeing ads on TV for the Fiesta, are interested in the car, but have no way to shop for one.

      It seems like the same problem GM had during the Malibu launch.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Ajla –

      They can only build them so fast. Ford decided to do a nationwide rollout with everyone getting them pretty much at the same time, and with thousands of dealers across the country, there are only so many to go around. Plus many dealers had orders filled from customers, sight unseen, for the car before any hit lots. Those customers who put down their deposits and placed orders are going to have their cars built before anymore units go to filling dealer stock. I know we have around a dozen cars coming for people who put down their orders a month or two ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      I spoke with my local Ford dealer GM/principal when I dropped the wife’s car yesterday morning for a scheduled maintenance appointment (nice to see the boss opening the door at 7 am to retrieve the newspaper!). I went over and introduced myself to ask specifically about the Fiesta. He told me they were allocated a total of 4 Fiestas for the first month, for which he had to accept a larger allocation of Foci and Explorers, and that all four have been sold sight unseen.

      The upshot of it is, according to him anyway, that they can’t get enough Tauruses, Escapes, F150s, Transit Connects, Fusion Hybrids and Fiestas to keep up with demand. I have to say that the evidence supported the story, as there wasn’t a single Taurus or Fusion Hybrid in the lot, and only a handful of Escapes (almost all XLT trim).

      He also mentioned that I am not even close to the first person asking about the new euro Focus. Ford seems to have begun to create a bit of a buzz around the new and upcoming products.

      My wife is a good example of the typical car buyer, she doesn’t care about numbers, stats or anything else I read about on TTAC; her three check boxes are reliability, looks and price. But the Fiesta actually has her panties in a knot, and it’s the first time in a quarter century that she is excited about a new car. The last car she got really excited about? Our 1979 Ford Fiesta.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The Fiesta is low margin vehicle both for Ford and for dealers. A base Fiesta has a total markup, invoice to MSRP, of about $150. Dealers aren’t going to make tons of money selling Fiestas right now, but if you get a 20 something customer who buys a Fiesta today, you have a good chance of getting them back to buy a Fusion or Edge a few years down the road when they get married and start a family

      Exactly. This is what Honda does with the Fit, and what they used to do with the RSX/Integra. It’s a good strategy.

      I personally wouldn’t choose the Fiesta (I might give on the Focus) but I can’t argue with the idea of hooking them when they’re young because the contrary example (spitting on new, entry-level car buyers) has been proven to be very, very damaging.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      Monty, where do you live? Ford in short supply? Wow.

      Where I live on the east coast, I recently picked up a friend who dropped his nearly new Ford off to the service department for an oil change.

      While I was waiting, on a saturday morning, there was not a person in the showroom and several salesman were headed my way hoping I was a Ford buyer.

      In the lot were lines of every Ford in every color. I don’t know if the Fiesta was there, but they had so many cars on the lot. A number of the Taurus that seemed to be there for quite a while based on the dirt on the windows. Perhaps Ford should stop shipping so many cars to the east coast?

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      According to the FiestaFaction forum, the lack of Fiestas in stock is due to a manufacturing flaw in Fiestas meant for Brazil; for whatever reason Brazil was meant to get the Mexican-built Fiestas first so the entire production line was held up.

      http://fiestafaction.com/forums/2011-fiesta-facts/31561-meghans-explanation-where-our-cars.html

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      @jj99 –

      I live in Winnipeg, where the demographic is different from most of the US, and even a lot of Canada.

      You wouldn’t believe the number of Tauruses (Taurii?) on the streets here. Or how many Mazda 3’s, or Suszuki SX4’s.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      @Nullo:

      I didn’t mean for my earlier comment to sound quite so petulant.

      However, I still don’t think it is a good move by Ford to start the Fiesta’s ad campaign when dealer lots won’t have anything to show potential customers for the next month.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    It’s confusing to have the Golf on this list when the Mazda 3, Civic, and Corolla/Matrix are not.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      And that’s the problem: To keep the figures even you’d have to split the Matrix sales from Corolla (which I believe Toyota doesn’t), and somehow split the Mazda3 five-door sales from the four-door (which Mazda definitely doesn’t), and I don’t think the Civic comes in a hatchback.

      Either that, or, combine Golf/Jetta to even it up, and destroy the whole basis for the graph in the first place.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    My guess is that Ford will dominate this segment by a wide margin very shortly.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Not necessarily. The Versa is, by a large margin, the vehicle to beat in this segment and the virtues it brings to the table are not ones that the Fiesta can beat: it’s a smaller, more cramped, harder-riding car.

      The little Ford will take chunks out of the Fit for the most part, and possibly the Yaris, but those people weren’t Versa buyers to start with.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The people I see driving Versas are, by and large, retirees or people who have rented them (rented Versas that is, not rented retirees).

      The Fiesta is an important part of the puzzle for Ford because it will allow Ford to start building up a younger customer base again. When Detroit was king back in the 60s and 70s the children of that era grew up looking to Detroit first for their new cars. Detroit dropped the ball, and those that grew up in the 80s and 90s are now looking at Toyota, Honda, and other imports first, the cars their parents had, when they go shopping. Ford obviously wants to reverse this trend, and getting younger buyers back into the fold will lead to a lot more sales in the future.

      The Fiesta is low margin vehicle both for Ford and for dealers. A base Fiesta has a total markup, invoice to MSRP, of about $150. Dealers aren’t going to make tons of money selling Fiestas right now, but if you get a 20 something customer who buys a Fiesta today, you have a good chance of getting them back to buy a Fusion or Edge a few years down the road when they get married and start a family, and then a high profit Explorer, Expedition or F150 another few steps down the road when their kids get older and they need more space, or need a truck to cart stuff around for the house or tow the boat.

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      I don’t think the Fiesta sales will effect Versa sales to any great extent but I do think Ford is going to sell at least twice as many Fiesta’s annually as Nissan sells Versa’s. I think a lot of the sales are going to come from younger demographics but I also think they’re going to do well across the demographic spectrum. In essence, the Fiesta sales will increase the total segment sales. I don’t see the majority of Fiesta buyers cross shopping the Versa. IMO a lot of Fiesta sales will be because of the styling especially the 5 door model.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Maybe the Fiesta will be a 21st Century Mustang? Hitting the youth market just right but capturing a wide swath of buyers and selling better than management could of predicted. MHO.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      I don’t think the Fiesta will necessarily outsell the Versa, which is appealing for the reasons psarhjinian mentioned, but I do think it has a good chance of outselling the Fit and Yaris (whose sales are much softer than I thought they were). Certainly selling 1,000 units with less than a week of availability is a very good sign.

      The Versa is in many ways the Impala of its segment: cheap, reliable, simple, comfortable. Not as outdated certainly, but still it has low enthusiast and high mainstream appeal. And for that reason, it sells in huge numbers relative to its peers (though I suspect alot of those numbers are fleet). The Fiesta meanwhile is counting on being “premium” and “trendy” and while that seems to be working out for Ford, I think that marketing approach and its small, sporty design narrow its appeal compared with the Nissan.

  • avatar
    MLS

    Only 5,000 PT Cruisers sold so far this year? Ouch. I know the thing is old, but didn’t Chrysler manage to move 100K+ per year back in the day?

  • avatar

    The Caliber in fifth place? ahead of the Fit, the MINI, the Golf??? Sick, I tell you.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      We usually have a couple Calibers on our used lot. We pick up one or two year old models at auction, under 30K miles (probably ex rentals) and sell them for $9,000 or $10,000 with automatic and A/C. If they sell for that low lightly used, I can imagine that the discounts on new ones must be pretty steep, and price sells.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Not even sure Why the Caliber is even on this list.
      It is not that small a hatch, is it?
      I think it’s even larger than the Mazda3.


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