The Death of Small Cars?

Small cars may be becoming an endangered species as the subcompact market seems to be declining. Fewer people are spending $20,000 and under on a car according to 2021 figures. These statistics may come as a bit of a shock, given the state of the economy.

People seem to prefer SUVs which are more expensive. Does it mean too many people are following the crowd?

It does mean that those who are after a subcompact are more likely to obtain a bargain, at least until automakers right-size their production.

The loudness of the complaint depends on the share of the market:

Other sources are more scathing, saying that subcompact cars are dead. It’s going a bit far too say Ford, GM and so on. At least publicly, car companies that don’t focus on passenger cars are not noticing the decline the way traditional small car manufacturers are.

Ford for example has stopped sedans and hatchbacks and GM has stopped selling the Buick Regal, leading to speculation.

It cannot be a coincidence that the Buick Regal, though technically a midscale car, has been having problems selling. Marketed as a luxury car the Buick Regal had coupe and sedan versions up until 1997 when the market started to resist spending big dollars on anything smaller than an SUV. The official reasons for discontinuing it altogether has been down to contractual reasons, according to the website, but whatever it is, it doesn’t look good.

A Decline in Midsized as Well?

It’s a shame that more wagons or coupes aren’t being made this year. To clarify, a wagon is short for station wagon, a car with an extended trunk that in many ways resembles a sedan, and a coupé is a car with a sloping roof and two doors as well as always having a fixed roof.

It’s disconcerting that something like a Cadillac sedan hasn’t been more successful. In China, they have been selling fitfully, but it’s a different story in the Western world. There’s still the CT4 (compact) and the CT5 (mid-size). There is no longer a CT6 or full-sized Cadillac being produced. There have also been more crossover vehicles which would back up the assumption that if commuters are going to buy a smaller vehicle, they at least want a body style that looks like the larger version.

Around the world

Other areas of the Eastern world bear more of a semblance with the Western world. Hatchbacks are now not as popular as they once were and now only make up a third of the market. The micro hatchbacks with names such as “Kwid” and “Alto” are experiencing a particularly heavy dip. Micro hatchbacks are the Indian equivalent of a compact hatchback. 

Sales for the CT6 peaked in 2017 and have been heading down ever since. Some journalists may have popularized it as a “parent car,” but then again didn’t parents also drive jeeps and pick-ups? Almost certainly, but these are unaffected.

The Ford Fusion is also discontinued do to declining sales. Built in a factory in Sonora, Mexico between the years 2006 to 2020. There have also been a number of different variants from gasoline and various types of hybrid. The last Fusion went off the production line in July 2020, just a few months into the pandemic, so it’s difficult to pin the slump entirely on a change of taste in the market. Manufacturing costs also play a role as importing things became more expensive.

It’s sad that smaller cars are disappearing if the only factor is taste. In the end, the market will decide.


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