By on October 12, 2014

2015 Honda Fit greyIn a U.S. auto industry that’s seen total new vehicle sales rise 5.5% over the first nine months of 2014, car sales are up just 1% year-over-year.

Subcompacts are performing slightly better, rising 2.8% through the end of September. During the month of September, specifically, the subcompact category grew 4.9% as overall car sales rose just 2.2%.

Yet the majority of cars in the subcompact segment are selling less often in 2014 than in 2013, not just in September but over the course of 2014’s first three-quarters.

Yaris volume has tumbled 46.3% this year as Toyota approached the launch of a refreshed 2015 model. In the meantime, sales of the Prius C have fallen 4.7%. The Mazda 2’s 40% burst means little given the low-volume nature of the car, but we expect greater things from Mazda when the next 2 arrives.

Despite increases from its Hyundai platform-sharing partner, the Kia Rio is down 11.6% to 29,387. The Rio and Hyundai Accent have combined for market share of 18.5% this year, down from 19.6% at this stage a year ago. (Their September share dropped from 19.0% to 13.9%.)

 

Car
Sept. 2014
Sept. 2013
% Change
9 Months 2014
9 Months 2013
% Change
Chevrolet Aveo

2 -100%
Chevrolet Sonic
8,328
7,335 13.5% 77,947 69,649 11.9%
Ford Fiesta
4,185
5,043 -17.0% 52,403 57,618 -9.1%
Honda Fit
6,628
3,981 66.5% 39,618 41,021 -3.4%
Hyundai Accent
3,662
4,999 -26.7% 46,405 45,112 2.9%
Kia Rio
2,240
2,695 -16.9% 29,387 33,238 -11.6%
Mazda 2
1,585
1,916 -17.3% 12,697 9,069 40.0%
Nissan Versa
12,072
8,776 37.6% 110,272 91,535 20.5%
Toyota Prius C
3,192
3,283 -2.8% 31,564 33,133 -4.7%
Toyota Yaris
598
2,465 -75.7% 10,339 19,254 -46.3%
Total
42,490
40,493 4.9% 410,632 399,631 2.8%

 
With their latest efforts, Detroit has their first two credible contenders in the subcompact segment in decades,or perhaps ever. Though it’s the only vehicle in the category with a true performance halo variant, Ford Fiesta sales are down 9% this year. The Fiesta has been on sale in America since June 2010. Over 271,000 have been sold since then, with annual sales peaking at 71,073 in 2013.

The Chevrolet Sonic, on the other hand, is up 12% to 77,947, the segment’s second-best nine-month result. The Sonic is a distant second to the Nissan Versa, of course, but this is nevertheless a welcome result for General Motors. Chevrolet averaged 6771 Sonic sales per month in 2012, 7137/month last year, and 8661/month in 2014.

Nissan’s Versa plays both value and space cards, and it does so to great effect. Over one-quarter of all subcompact sales in America go Nissan’s way. The Versa is also the only car in the class which sells anywhere near as often as its compact sibling. (Examples: the Focus outsells the Fiesta by more than 3-to-1. The Cruze outsells the Sonic by 2.7-to-1. Civic to Fit equals 6.4-to-1. Sentra sales are up 43% to 141,216 this year.)

The Fit is the most interesting nameplate in the subcompact class this year as Honda launched the car in third-gen form in the late summer/early fall. Fit sales jumped by 2647 units in September as the car’s market share in the category grew from 9.8% in September 2013 to 15.6% last month. U.S. Fit volume peaked at 79,794 units in 2008 but Honda has averaged fewer than 57,000 annual Fit sales since then.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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99 Comments on “Cain’s Segments: Subcompact Cars In September 2014...”


  • avatar
    Ion

    It looks like stiff competition from the other makes have killed the Yaris. A potentially bad sign for the rest of toyota’s line-up. Also I’m sure low gas prices are the reason for the decline of the segment as a whole.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Direct me to the subcompact that gets significantly better MPG than the equivalent compact.

      Also direct me to the cheap fuel I’m still paying $2.98 a gallon.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Virtually all of them in realistic driving anywhere but on constant speed highways. Probably none of them on the highway.

        Obtaining interior volume by growing upwards and less streamlined isn’t good for aerodynamics, but lower weight and smaller engines make a difference in dynamic driving.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Note: I said significant.
          Difference between 35mpg and 45 mpg (which alone is an un/semi-realistic spread between compact and subcompact), is about $300 a year at 15k miles with $3.25 fuel.

          At $300 of difference your not going to make the case to go down without other incentives or a personal desire for small.

          • 0 avatar
            DevilsRotary86

            “or a personal desire for small.”

            That’s pretty much it. I (Acura RSX-S, technically it’s EPA classed as a subcompact), my wife (Honda Fit), and my brother (Toyota Yaris) are amongst apparently 410,632 Americans this year who like small cars. In fact, my 4 member family grew up being shuttled around in a 1991 Civic. That year was just before the Civic was upsized to a compact and was still a sub-compact. Just a family thing, I guess.

          • 0 avatar
            bosozoku

            >personal desire for small

            Growing up around pickups, vans, and SUVs, I’m squarely in the smaller-is-better camp. Everything is simpler and cheaper on subcompacts, from fuel to tires to parking, etc. And today the Fit has more usable interior room than a Civic, not to mention looking and feeling more like the lovable Honda’s pf old.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      The competition’s offerings are hammering the Yaris, but the Prius C is the anvil upon which the real damage has been caused. When the price differential between the 4 door Yaris and base Prius C can be made up in 3 years of driving, moving to the initially more expensive vehicle is a no-brainer. Toyota adjusted prices in the past year for both Yaris and Prius C, but for commuters or heavy city drivers the Yaris isn’t even close, especially when comparable gas-only subcompacts offer more pleasant driving experiences at similar price points.

    • 0 avatar
      Rod Panhard

      The Yaris has just gone through a restyle. So one wonders if it was even available on dealers’ lots during the past month or so.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Keep in mind that over 50% of Yaris sales is to (rental) fleet.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        I tend to believe that the Camry is also about 30% rental fleet. I say this due to the fact that I see so many Camry’s in airports all across America. And I see very few Yaris.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Last year, rental fleet for the Camry was 13%.

          For the sake of comparison, rental fleet for the Jetta was 12.5%.

          You may want to get your eyes checked.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Wouldn’t help. The brain interprets the data the eyes are sending it, and that is where the perception problem is here.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            If “brain” is another word for “wishful thinking,” then I think that you’re onto something.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      I believe that the new Corolla has taken a lot of buyers away from the Yaris, much more car for not much more money, the Corolla is now what the Camry was in the 80’s.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Yup, steel rims, torsion beam, drum brakes, 1987 digital clock in the dashboard, available 4-speed automatic, and the weakest LED headlamps ever installed by an OEM, low beam only.

        • 0 avatar
          VW16v

          What is up with the cheap looking toyota digital clock. I swear they must have signed some 40 year deal with the make of that Texas Instruments looking clock. It’s in Yaris to $90K Land Cruisers, kinda of embarrassing.

        • 0 avatar
          jolly

          You are missing the point : a Yaris wouldn’t offer anything more, have worst fuel economy, much less space, less comfort, for a not so lower price. The fact that you don’t like de Corolla is irrelevant. A Toyota customer on a budget might end up with a Corolla if looking for a Yaris.
          And the same would be true for Fit-Civic, Mazda2-Mazda3, Versa-Semntra, Sonic-Cruze, Fiesta-Focus…

  • avatar
    tuffjuff

    As a large mountain man, I’m somewhat jealous of people who can fit in a Fit. The new car looks pretty cool and oddly appealing.

  • avatar
    sketch447

    These subcomps are no longer oddities in America. However, they still don’t sell, for a few reasons. One, in the face of massive SUVs, they’re too small. Two, they’re not inexpensive. Heck, you might land a discounted, dust-gatherer-on-the-back-lot Mazda2 for $13k. But the new Honda Fit is over $16k or so!! Three, they’re chick repellers. Guys don’t go near them for that reason. Because women will think “if that’s all he can afford, he probably lives in it.” And most of all, these things aren’t hugely fuel-efficient. You buy one of these, you want 50mpg hwy. It doesn’t happen.

    I don’t get it: young people don’t have money (because their entry level jobs were all outsourced), so why don’t car companies fire-sale these things? Then car companies wonder how to market to millennials? Here’s a hint: lower your prices!!

    One would think women would buy these things, but nope. (I’ve never understood why car cos. and their pinky-ringed dealers think female buyers are so stupid.) Whenever I see these on the road, they’re invariably driven by 50-something dudes (esp. the pathetic Yaris).

    A few random notes: The Fiesta is just too small, and its design-language-while-stationary makes no attempt hide that fact.. I don’t see much of the new Versa, but the previous version (esp. the hback) was wildly successful. I saw a million of those around, driven by every demographic, until Nissan ruined it by cloning the Fit on the cheap.

    For a few grand more than these things, you can land a base Focus or Cruze 1.8L.

    BTW, where’s the Mitsu Mirage on the list? That vehicle sells better than expected. And why? Because Mitsu markets it for what it is: a base vehicle designed for fuel economy. Not as a “lifestyle” vehicle (Fit and Fiesta). Nice try, but no one’s buying that line……

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      “subcomps are no longer oddities in America”

      Not since about 1980, no.

      o_O

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “so why don’t car companies fire-sale these things?”

      Because losing money is usually a very bad idea.

      Also, it is highly debatable that price reductions would do much to increase volumes. The cars are small in comparison to what most Americans expect, and there is only so much demand for that kind of thing in the US where parking is usually not that scarce and where fuel is relatively cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      They’re not going to lower their prices because they do not wish to sell at a loss. Profits come from CUVs, SUVs and pick-ups. Basic cars of all sizes are not profit makers. The cost to build a Taurus, a Fusion, a Focus and a Fiesta are roughly the same (my guess is within 15%). The Fiesta is priced high enough to break even or turn a very small profit if you include the CAFE latitude it provides Ford. This high price also encourage many buyers to get Focus for a little more. This little more goes straight to Ford’s bottom line. Same with the Focus/Fusion get a buyer to move to the Fusion and the whole price difference goes straight to the bottom line.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      Everyone I know in my age demographic (30 and younger) drives used vehicles. They would rather buy something used than buy a new subcompact.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I recently learned that millennials outnumber baby boomers but aren’t buying new cars and homes at the same rate that the seniors did when they were that age.

        No doubt a marketing and sales challenge for decades to come.

        And looking at my kids and grandkids, I doubt that they will be able to kick back, retire and travel widely at the end of their working years like my baby boomer generation is doing.

        • 0 avatar
          nickoo

          It’s because we’re all broke and because of bifurcated inflation, where life essentials are more expensive than ever while useless trinkets are cheaper than ever. I don’t see myself ever being able to afford a house at what they are going for where I live in SoCal.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            nickoo, you hit the nail right on the head! And more and more young people are beginning to appreciate the benefits of the underground economy.

            But no matter how hard they try to get ahead, “The System” always punishes them, like in the case of the recent healthcare premium increases.

            In the case of my grandson, his healthcare policy with the FEHBP and his wife’s policy with the CHiP will be going up 31% and 53% respectively, effective 1 Jan 2015, since they had a baby this summer.

            Merry Christmas!

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            “I don’t see myself ever being able to afford a house at what they are going for where I live in SoCal.”

            So move.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            S2k Chris, moving is not always economically feasible. There’s such a thing as having a vested interest in your location because of employment, business, etc.

            I have several family members who are just pining to leave the Great State of California but only one, my oldest son, will be able to realize that dream at the end of this year when he retires from Banking and Finance.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            “S2k Chris, moving is not always economically feasible. There’s such a thing as having a vested interest in your location because of employment, business, etc.

            I have several family members who are just pining to leave the Great State of California but only one, my oldest son, will be able to realize that dream at the end of this year when he retires from Banking and Finance.”

            Life’s hard, and it’s all about choices. If you can’t live the life you want (ie, buy a home) then go somewhere else. If you don’t want to go somewhere else, you must not want to own that home badly enough.

            I moved halfway across the country when I was starting out, because that’s where the jobs were. And this was in 2006, not the dark ages.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          Give ’em some money and things will even out. No point on doing a selling job to those who can’t afford what you’re selling.

          Also, HDC, maybe your part of the baby boom is enjoying a generous retirement, I have my doubts about my part. I’ll let you know in 15 years.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            FormerFF, not as generous as most of us were led to believe, as we put 6.8% (or 13.6% if self-employed) into the kitty, only to find out that socsec is a scam designed to get the working productive to pay the way of the freeloaders who never did a day’s work.

            But having lived it, that’s the exact reason why so many oldsters, seniors, Independents and forward-looking progressives are doing a little redistribution of their own personal wealth to their kids and grandkids.

      • 0 avatar

        Exactly. My friends in the $13K price range went and bought lightly-used Cruzes and Elantras, instead of new Sonics and Accents. Another friend of mine, coming from a 1993 GMC Sierra with power nothing recently scored an Accord EX-L with nav, sunroof and leather, and she loves it. I think the Fit is cool and I might go for it, but other than that, if I’m looking at a subcompact car, it’s going to be something semi-premium and in the $20-$30K range…aka Golf or MINI Cooper. I’m not that interested in the “hypermiling” subcompact, because the tradeoffs are too significant.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          I can’t understand wanting new so badly on a budget that you would torture yourself with one of these, when for the same money you can get a 2 year old something nice

          • 0 avatar
            turboprius

            It’s easy; the benefit of buying new.

            Used, even CPO cars, may have some hidden problems. How many “CPO” cars are ex-rentals or auction buys from Florida and the northeast? Lots. Sure, that CarFax may look pretty, but there are events that aren’t shown. Lots of places don’t submit to CarFax, so that car I’m looking at could be on it’s third engine and I wouldn’t even know it. My neighbor is a good example; she sold her almost totaled Explorer to a Lexus dealer, and all the CarFax said was “Accident Reported”. No mention of the airbags being deployed.

            So, buying new may be slightly more expensive, but with discount services like TrueCar and USAA, you can get a good deal and won’t be ripped off.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I guess it’s how you look at it, I view these econo-penilty boxes as such a punishment that I would rather take my chances with the possible “hidden problems” of a nice used car. At least I’ll be comfortable while waiting on the tow truck

          • 0 avatar

            “At least I’ll be comfortable while waiting on the tow truck”

            That should be Land Rover’s tagline.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Lol

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Don’t you mean a 2-year-old SEP–Somebody Else’s Problem? I adamantly refuse to purchase used UNLESS it’s for a very specific purpose and I don’t have time to find something new.

          • 0 avatar

            @Vulpine–I bought a new car in late July, and though it’s been nice through the past 3800 miles, I’ll never do it again. It’s too nerve-racking. I catalogue every scratch and every ding and every minute scrape (none of which is my fault) and I find myself fervently *anticipating* the 40,000 mile mark, when I won’t care as much. The new car experience is *not* for me…

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Different people see things differently. In my case, I’d rather put up with a scratch or two rather than have to pay out what has inevitably been thousands of dollars over the purchase price of EVERY used car (or truck) I’ve owned just to keep it roadworthy within the first year of ownership. I simply can’t afford it. As an example, 3 and a half years ago I purchased a used pickup truck because I needed to haul a large, bulky but not heavy load within two weeks. The need was expected to be an ongoing one, so I bought rather than rented. Now, I’ll grant I got the truck cheap–it was 20 years old–but since then I’ve paid double what I bought it for and expect another thousand-dollar repair in the near future–the brakes are failing in a way that says Pads, Calipers, Rotors AND soft lines– and I’ve only put 4,000 miles on it since I purchased it. I simply can’t afford sudden, expensive repairs and that’s the kind of service I get out of every used vehicle I’ve bought.

            Meanwhile, when I buy new I get a minimum of 5 years of reliable service and with my last three vehicles I’ve had more than 7 years of reliable service out of each of them; what repairs were necessary came under warranty. I can live with a few scratches and dings (though my Saturn Vue didn’t even ding since it had plastic body panels) if I can avoid unexpected expenses.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @TurboPrius: You do realize you can look up the Carfax on almost any vehicle that’s been registered in the US, don’t you? So what if the dealer doesn’t subscribe? Look it up yourself!

            But you are right about one point; you still have to determine what kind of ‘life’ the vehicle lived up to the point you’re looking at it. In my case, the CarFax gave me data on where my 20-year-old truck (at the time) had been purchased and run for nearly 10 years, then moved and registered for another 10 years. I was also able to get some data about the previous owners and so walked into my purchase knowing what to expect up front. (And pretty much got what I expected.)

    • 0 avatar

      The Mirage is certainly a lifestyle vehicle – its designed to fit the lifestyle of someone who chooses not to pay their creditors but still think they are entitled to a ‘brand new’ car. Welcome, says Mitsubishi, like Amscot, you’re okay with us!

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        You know, some people would buy the Mirage for exactly what it is–an econobox. I’m aware of several people both who live near me and others near my extended family who buy an econobox strictly for the purpose of commuting back and forth to work. They typically have a 70- to 150-mile commute and carpool with at least one other person, so they buy cheap and drive it into the ground while it’s under warranty or until it starts to develop problems, then trade for another. It’s simply cheaper and more reliable than spending less up front and having to maintain it out of their own pockets. These folks are typically pickup truck drivers or other low gas mileage types for their personal driving and use something like the Mirage, Corolla or other econobox as their ‘beater’. I personally know one man who owns something like five different Corvettes and yet drives a Smart to work every day. Personally, I think he’s pretty ‘Smart’–get it?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      These car sell to people who have a reason to have a car this size. People living in places with very difficult parking, which is the inner city of every older city in the country that doesn’t have really good mass transit, i.e. everywhere but New York City. Old folks buying their last car. My Great Grandparents bought a Vega wagon and drove it for the rest of their lives. Today, they would possibly buy a Yaris or a Fiesta. People buy them for their kids. People buy them because they have $15K to spend and don’t want a used car. Sometimes, people buy them just because they like them. I have a FIAT 500 that I bought just because I wanted one. And no 500 and no Mini? Do they fit in some other category?

      It’s not a huge market, but these are all global cars so it costs very little to sell them here too. And thanks to CAFE, every Sonic sold offsets some gas-guzzling something.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      The Mirage shows up in the “city car” segment, where it is #2 to the Spark. Mitsu has sold about 40% as many Mirages as Chevy has sold Sparks. It sells at the same rate as does the Mazda 2, but is dwarfed by the Versa, as Nissan sells nearly 9 Versas for each Mirage that Mitsubishi gets out the door.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    I’d bet you could easily fit in a Fit if you tried one on for size.

    Fit sales have always been limited by availability. When I went to buy the last gen I was told by the dealer that Honda limited their sales because Honda didn’t make any money on the Japanese import. Honda preferred that you buy a Civic.

    From previous articles, Honda plans a major effort in this category in the coming year as they reach full production at the new Mexican plant.

    I wouldn’t doubt that a year from now the admittedly inferior Versa will no longer be the category sales leader.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I know several old ladies who have bought a Fit over the years and continue to use them as their in-town grocery getters.

      Some of these gals are real heifers. They manage to Fit….. :)

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I’m 6’2″ tall and about 350lbs – I fit just fine in a FIAT 500. Front AND back seats. Two of me fit fine in the front, I have friends the same size. Four up is a reasonable proposition for an hour or so. Yeah, we have to take turns buckling the seat belts and sometimes our arms touch, but I gave up on the theory of “cooties” in about the 3rd grade. How much space do you need??

  • avatar
    dwford

    And the Versa just encourages auto executives to be lazy on design – the UGLIEST car by miles is the runaway best seller. Of course, Nissan Finance will finance or lease pretty much anyone, so a good part of those sales is to subprime customers.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Price sells, if only truck makers could re establish this connection then they would finally be able to pass the 1-million-sales-a-year mark.
      Versa is going to remain in its position until something better comes, lots of space for such a small car and a reasonable price is hard to beat.

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatic

        Why would they want a million sales a year at a lower overall profit? There is no reason to increase capacity if it means a lower the price. Profits on trucks are at the sweet spot now, lots of sales and high prices. A year or three at a million sales per year would kill the goose before it has finished laying the golden eggs.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    The Jeep Renegade and the Fiat 500x may make a significant dent in these numbers. NONE of those other sub-compacts offer what the Renegade/500x bring to the market.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      If eh HR-V doesn’t get too big of a price tag I can see Honda selling good number of them. But, with the lowest priced auto trans Fit going for $19,000, I’d expect it to start around $23,000, which will limit its popularity.

      But, that’s going into the mini MPV/CUV category, where Kia is making a good market with the Soul.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        Trucar has the most popular selling Fit w/ auto selling for just a shade over $17K.
        https://www.truecar.com/prices-new/honda/fit-pricing/2015/C8EE94C8/

        The Fit is a much better car than the Versa Note which has huge discounts. The Fit will probably be the more economical vehicle over time when you factor in depreciation.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      The automakers are finally getting around to the subcompact CUV market. It’s easy money – take your subcompact car chassis, jack it up a couple inches, add some black cladding, raise the price $5000. Hell, Suabaru is proving that you don’t even need to change the body style to charge extra with the Impreza/XV.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I got a Forester rental for a couple of days and I didn’t care for it. It was tinny, the interior was plastilicious, the ride was harsh, and the engine was rambunctiously loud.

        And for this they wanted $30K plus!?

        No way. No how.

        (That said, it is the tenth most popular seller in that segment….)

      • 0 avatar
        RedStapler

        Subaru did that 20 yrs ago with the Legacy and successfully caught the 1st wave of SUV mania. Give it 1.5in of lift, some faux-off road cladding and a goofy ad campaign with Paul “Crocodile Dundee” Hogan and viola!

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        I was just about to say this. B-segment/subcompact CUVs are gonna be the hot new market for automakers in the next couple years. HR-V, CX-3, Encore, Trax, Renegade, 500X…it’s only a matter of time before my beloved Ford brings over the EcoSport.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Versa Note – the hatch. Is that clumped in with Versa? I heard Note doesn’t sell too well in the Fit margin.

    The Sentra’s your usual year-end discount.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Kia needs to get a handle on their dealers. At both dealers in town, even the $13k Rios have a $1800 ADM sticker on them. that’s almost 15%.

  • avatar

    The real story here is how pathetic Toyota does in what was once arguably their segment. Perhaps it speaks of the merits of the Corolla – or more likely, its bargain-basement price and rebate-driven sales – and the inferiority of the Yaris as a vehicle. As someone else said, its like a 40-50% daily rental vehicle anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      This is such low margin territory for automakers and dealers, I’m surprised there are as many entries in this segment as they are in the US. If I was Toyota, I wouldn’t invest in this field in the US until absolutely necessary either, ie. once every other market is running the new model.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      The Yaris was suffering before the Corolla redesign. The Yaris is a pathetic entry in a field offering some pretty good little runabouts.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    HRV and Rogue are going to break sales records. Both are very well designed

  • avatar
    carguy

    The market growth for subcompacts used to be driven by fuel economy. However, now that compact and even mid-size sedans can get similar mileage this is no longer the case. The market for subcompacts is now really for those folks looking for a small car due to personal preference or urban space restrictions. Don’t look for too much growth in this segment anytime soon.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    It’s Versan, Sonic, Fit and everyone else. Toyota should just give up in this segment. They don’t need the CAFE boost. They haven’t built a decent AND attractive subcompact since the Tercel (the Echo was a fun car to drive by had bizarro proportions).

  • avatar
    b1daly

    I’ve been looking at sub compacts, and the Fiesta always catches my eye when I’m out and about. I’ve driven it with a stick, and thought it drove great, in comparison to the competitors at least.

    But the style change they did to the nose, the gaping “Aston Martin” style black grill is simply hideous to me. That alone is a deal breaker. It strikes me as odd in myself. Why let one little cosmetic thing stop a purchase if the rest is good.

    But it’s one of those things that once I notice it, I can’t unsee it, and it dominates my whole perception of the car.

    Things like that, I ponder how the designers thought it looked cool. How did it get out the door? And across the line to boot. Really, I have a sense of wonder when something that looks so wrong to me is pushed so widespread.

    Part of it comes from it being mostly a design element, the car company wants a strong, distinctive look. Some of daring. Sometimes it’s a hit, other times a head scratcher.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    I want a Fit with portal axles.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    A good friend recently bought a Versa Note (base manual transmission). Her shopping experience was crazy… recently divorced, three kids, finances are tight, and a new job requiring a 50-mile commute each way. She was looking for used cars, but in Northern California any used car with less than 100k miles seems to go for at least $8k. A used Japanese car (regardless of make but worse for Honda and Toyotas) seemingly are for sale by owners and dealers who think they are made of gold. For comparison, she found a used Versa HB (older style) with a manual trans and about 50k miles on it. The dealer wanted $12,999 and wouldn’t go below $12k plus tax and license.

    Perusing online web sites, an ad for the local Nissan dealer came on offering a new Versa Note for $12,999. I think the MSRP was around $14,700 or so. So, for the price of a moderate used car she got a brand new one, with a warranty, and 0% financing for 5 years. In her case, this made a lot of sense. Also, seeing what used Japanese cars are selling for, her depreciation on this Note for the next 4 years will probably be less than the sales tax on a new 3-Series.

    Also, today’s subcompact, like the Note, have the same interior space as some midsize cars from 20 years ago. Her last car was a 1993 Accord Wagon which had more cargo space but certainly not much additional interior seat space than the Note.

    Let’s be fair, these aren’t exactly penalty boxes anymore. As a car enthusiast I may crave more, but most buyers are obviously not car enthusiasts.

  • avatar
    thenerdishere

    Look at your photos from the 70’s and 80’s. It’s the blubber. Most Americans can’t fit into these subcompacts.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Where’s all the small Fiat models?

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Fiat hasn’t been in the US long enough to build the cachet that Honda and Toyota have. It takes long decades of reliable service to see a brand build Honda’s kind of reputation. Look how long it took Kia and Hyundai to get where they are now.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        The Fiat of yore and lore already has the reputation for shoddiness, unreliability and frequent repair. That’s going to be hard to overcome.

        The difference today is that Fiat now has Sergio. Love him or hate him, he’s effective, he promotes efficiency and he knows sh!t when he sees it.

        As long as Fiatsler keeps Sergio running things, they will be OK. I liken modern-day Sergio to the Lee Iaccoca of old. Each intensely focused on making their products a success in the market place. And succeeding at it.

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