Coming off a very strong 2014 delivery quota, the European top-selling compact segment could fall victim to its own success story in 2015, with analyst IHS Automotive predicting a regression for the sector.
Buoyed by double-digit delivery increases of models such as the Volkswagen Golf and Toyota Auris, the compact segment almost hit the 3 million units threshold last year. Now the second-best selling segment in Europe, following subcompacts, could fall below the 2.9 million vehicles level – with the main reason for the expected contraction being the lack of any major compact model introduction. That would leave the mass-market compact segment under pressure from above – the luxury zone, where the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A Class reside – and from the side, as subcompact and compact crossover models continue to gain market share.
According to sales figures compiled by JATO Dynamics, the new model introductions played a major part last year in the segment’s overall sales gains: the Seat Leon was 605 up through 10 months, the Peugeot 308, voted the 2014 European Car of the Year, jumped deliveries 59% and the Skoda Octavia increased 27%. The growth of such new cars offset declines seen by older vehicles, such as the Opel/Vauxhall Astra that dropped 9 percent, the Renault Megane – dipping 10 percent and the Hyundai i30, which fell 15%. The Volkswagen Group took the lion’s share of the compact segment, accounting for 51% of the sales in the compact models that formed the best-selling top 10. The third-generation Octavia, introduced back in 2013, soared in the ranking from sixth to third position, the Spanish subsidiary Seat also had a winner with the new Leon that took Octavia’s previous place in the rankings and of course, the VW Golf remained the undisputed leader of the segment.
Via Automotive News Europe