Australians are continuing to shun the cheapest cars on the market in increasing numbers, with sales in the Micro Car segment already down 45 per cent this year.
VFACTS sales figures released this week showed sales at the smallest and cheapest end of the market fell by 54.5 per cent last month alone.
This follows on from the 30.8 per cent collective drop the vehicles in this segment experienced in 2014.
It has been some time since sales of so-called micro cars were heading northward, even though passenger vehicles in this segment are the cheapest and generally most fuel efficient you can buy.
Pictured: Fiat 500 range
Leading the segment in February (as per usual) was the Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback (pictured at top) managed 308 sales, down 73 per cent. Sales for the year-to-date are down more than 66 per cent. The Mirage sedan competes in the Light Car segment, and, as such, isn't included in these figures.
But despite that volume seller’s big losses, it wasn’t solely responsible for February’s segment decline. The Mitsubishi was followed by the Fiat 500 (235 sales in February, down 5 per cent) and then daylight.
The Holden Barina Spark (99 sales, up 10.6 per cent) bucked the trend, but the Nissan Micra (73 sales, down 42.5 per cent) didn’t. The Suzuki Alto (49 sales, down 60.5 per cent) was in runout and replaced last month by the new Celerio (36 sales), so we’ll cut it some slack.
Naturally, given the 12.7 per cent annual growth in the Light Car segment (11.3 per cent for February), it might be tempting to say buyers are simply steering clear of Mirages and 500s in favour of Mazda 2s and Toyota Yaris’. The Hyundai i20 is also scoring plenty of sales thanks to its budget-friendly pricing.
Pictured: Nissan Micra
But note that Light Car sales dropped more than 4 per cent in 2014 simultaneous to the Micro Car drop.
The proliferation of new budget city SUVs (up another 50 per cent in February), sharp factory deals on Small Cars and a glut of pre-registered ‘called cars’ that don’t count as new registrations when delivered have all be hypothesised as reasons.
Whatever the case, the decline in this segment — the departure of Volkswagen when it axed the Up! being emblematic — continues unabated.
As we’ve reported, the total new vehicle market showed a promising bounce back in February after moderate decline across much of 2014, up 4.2 per cent to 90,424 registrations. Most of this big growth came from SUVS across the spectrum.