Italy’s recent economic turnaround and the introduction of the facelifted Fiat 500 will bring minicar sales out of the negative pace, according to analysts from IHS Automotive.

The segment registered a drop to a half decade low last year, with minicar deliveries plunging 32 percent to 1,125,160 million last year compared to 2009 because one of the key markets – Italy – was down 50 percent to 244,642 during the time frame, according to IHS data. Now the analyst firm forecasts the continent’s total minicar sales will rebound to around 1.2 million this year and 1.25 million in 2016. The recovery is thanks to Italy – which is the biggest European market for such entry-level models – is expected to jump back to 260,000 units this year and to 300,000 in 2016. The so-called A segment had its heyday back in 2009 when the Italian market alone accounted for half a million units – though back then a government subsidy was responsible for much of the booming demand. Five years ago such programs around the continent in countries that were trying to push out of the global financial crisis also artificially inflated minicar sales to 1.65 million vehicles.

According to figures from JATO Dynamics, after the first five months of the year the ruling A segment car is Fiat’s 500, followed by the Fiat Panda, the Volkswagen Up, the Renault Twingo and Hyundai’s i10. Fiat’s high-end, high priced minicar is expected to drive the recovery as the company introduces a refreshed version, while Italy’s overall minicar sales will be assisted by the recent economic turnaround. The Fiat 500 is also highly popular outside its home country, with strong figures for the model pushing the United Kingdom to become the continent’s second largest market for minicars in 2014, says IHS.

Via Automotive News Europe


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