Whether due to rising gas prices or changing trends by consumers, small cars are increasingly becoming a big deal across America. In fact, sales of compact and sub-compact vehicles are poised to make up the largest segment of total auto industry sales since 1993.
Strong throughout the year, a spike in small car sales in the month of September helped push total sales to their best month in four years, with one out of every five cars sold being a b- or c-segment (sub-compact or compact) car.
Through September small cars sales accounted for a total of 19.3 percent of the US new car market, the largest it’s been since 1993 when compact and sub-compact models made up 20.5 percent of all cars sold.
In September sales of Ford’s small cars jumped 50 percent, helped by the introduction of the all-new C-Max hybrid. Meanwhile Chevy Cruze sales were up 42 percent to 25,787.Long-time leaders in the small car war, Honda and Toyota also saw impressive growth with Civic sales up 57 percent while Corolla sales climbed 43 percent.
In the sub-compact segment, once dominated by Honda and Toyota, it’s domestic automakers that are making the biggest waves now with sales of the Chevy Sonic up 500%, helping grow total Chevy small car sales 97 percent.
Long without a compact car, Chrysler is now back in the game with the Dodge Dart. Originally available only with a manual transmission, now that automatic models are available sales climbed 72 percent in September to 5,235 units. As for Chrysler’s Fiat brand, even the slow-selling 500 mini-car has seen a turn-around with sales up 51 percent to 4,176.
Other small car gainers included Kia with Soul sales up 42 percent and Forte models up 27 percent, while the Rio managed 3,171 units compared to just 190 a year ago. Additionally Volkswagen Beetle sales tripped for the month while Subaru Impreza sales climbed 82 percent.
While consumers do seem to be responding to a new breed of small cars available with all the bells and whistles of larger vehicles, many analysts still point to gas prices as being the deciding factor. According to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge report gas for September was up 10 percent compared to a year before at $3.782 a gallon, while populous states like California (America’s largest car market) saw prices for a regular 87 octane above $4 for the month.
[Source: Automotive News]