Cain's Segments: Subcompact Car Sales In America In 2014

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
cain s segments subcompact car sales in america in 2014

With the hatchback Note available for the duration of the 2014 calendar year, Nissan’s Versa lineup posted huge year-over-year gains in the United States in 2014.

Total Versa volume jumped 19%, or 22,429 units, to a class-leading 139,781 sales in 2014.

• Segment grows in a stagnant car market

• Fit ranked second in the category in 2014 Q4

New Mazda 2 arrives this year

Had Versa volume declined 19%, it still would have ended 2014 as America’s top-selling subcompact. The Versa’s market share in the strict confines of this nine-car subcompact category grew from 23.3% in 2013 to 26.8% in 2014.

The latter stages of 2014 were slightly more difficult for the Versa, as interest in the Honda Fit continued to build and even Toyota’s revamped Yaris generated far more sales activity than is usual. The Versa’s December share slid to 22.9%.

The subcompact segment as a whole was surprisingly strong given the tendency of consumers to veer away from cars in 2014. The total car market was up less than 2%, but subcompact volume increased nearly 4%. Strong growth from the second-ranked Chevrolet Sonic was a big help. An all-new Fit produced year-end gains of nearly 6000 units.

On the flip side, the Hyundai Accent’s improvements were not sufficient to overcome the losses of its platform-mate, the Kia Rio. The ST halo hatch has not provided the Fiesta lineup with any boost: sales fell 11% in 2014, and the Fiesta fell from third place in the category in 2013 to fourth in 2014. The Fiesta ranked fifth in U.S. subcompact sales in the fourth-quarter.

Subcompact20142013% ChangeChevrolet Aveo—

2-100%Chevrolet Sonic93,518 85,6469.2%Ford Fiesta63,192 71,073-11.1%Honda Fit59,340 53,51310.9%Hyundai Accent63,309 60,4584.7%Kia Rio35,933 40,742-11.8%Mazda 213,615 11,75715.8%Nissan Versa139,781 117,35219.1%Toyota Prius C40,570 41,979-3.4%Toyota Yaris13,274 21,342-37.8%————Total522,532503,8643.7%

Theorists may suggest that low fuel prices would hamper subcompacts, yet December’s 10% year-over-year improvement stands in stark contrast to that message. That said, subcompacts remain rare cars in the U.S. The larger siblings of just these nine cars – Cruze, Focus, Civic, Elantra, Forte, 3, Sentra, Corolla – combined for more than 1.7 million U.S. sales in 2014, more than triple the total number of sales achieved by these subcompacts.

Back at Nissan, the Versa’s strong performance was representative of a brand which grew at a rate that was far above average in 2014. Moreover, Nissan possesses a car lineup which expanded its sales in spite of the fact that the U.S. auto industry sourced much of its growth from SUVs and crossovers. Total Nissan brand sales jumped 12% to record highs in 2014 as industry-wide volume rose 6%.

Combined, the Versa, Sentra, Altima, and Leaf were up 17%. The Altima was America’s fourth-best-selling car; the Sentra ranked twelfth; the Versa 18th. The Altima and Versa broke their own sales records.

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

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  • Ruggles Ruggles on Jan 20, 2015

    I expect sales to maintain in this segment, but it will require additional incentive spend to make it happen. That means the deals will be good but resale values will deteriorate.

    • See 1 previous
    • APaGttH APaGttH on Jan 20, 2015

      @DevilsRotary86 I get those BS letters for my 05 Saturn Relay minivan - cracks me up.

  • Sector 5 Sector 5 on Jan 20, 2015

    Wonder if Micra will appear to undercut new Fit? Problem is timings a bit off. New Micra due 2016 model year.

    • Kovakp Kovakp on Jan 21, 2015

      Nobody in the US cross-shops Honda and Mitsubishi because nobody shops Mitsubishi.

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂