About half the size of a Ford F150 pickup truck, minicars get great gas mileage, are reasonably priced and have a distinctive style inside and out. Minicars are on their way to the U.S. in a big way with six OEMs investing in new minicar launches over the next 5 years to compete with the already launched Smart Fortwo. In the soon to launch models, such as the Volkswagen Up! and Scion IQ, you can expect to get upwards of 65 miles per gallon for a price that is light on the wallet, too. With a VW Up! starting at $9K or a premium packaged Fiat 500 starting at $16K, this should be a deal for many.
Although the minicar segment may be relatively new to the U.S. market, it's an established segment in automotive markets across the globe from Western Europe to China and India. In 2008 there was only 1 minicar (Smart Fortwo) available in the U.S., but in Western Europe there were 48 and in China there were 18 models for sale. Polk’s automotive forecast projects the minicar segment in the U.S. to remain below 1% of all light vehicle sales through 2014 despite growing over 500% from 2008 to 2014.
If you want to learn more, we just released a Polk View titled "Will Super Small Cars Generate Super Big Sales?" The Polk View discusses topics relating to the minicar segment’s sales trends in Western Europe, China and the U.S.; how these minicars have redefined small spaces; who are likely buyers for the soon to launch minicar models in the U.S.; and what's the motivation for OEMs introducing mincars to the U.S.
I invite you to read the article and let me know your thoughts about how minicars will be received throughout the globe, who will buy them and would you consider buying one yourself?
Posted by Margaret Zewatsky, Global Market Analyst, Polk (10.08.2009)