We live in a time where fuel efficiency and affordability are a growing priority. The first is due to climate change and the second is due to the shaky economic conditions.
But demand for the cheapest and smallest cars on the market has declined over the past decade, as buyers flock to taller SUVs.
This in turn has seen the brand discontinue its smallest and cheapest cars at a rate of knots, with the number of Micro and Light cars sold dropping from 38 models in 2013 to 16 by the end of 2022.
Accordingly, this lack of maximally affordable used cars has undoubtedly put higher price pressure on used cars, as buyers on a budget choose to buy used.
We have examined sales figures from 2013 to the present, and mapped changes in the Micro and Light Car classes, as defined by the VFACTS industry statistics database.
We’ve lumped these two classes together because, frankly, to the average customer, they’re pretty much the same thing. Kia Picanto (Micro) and Toyota Yaris (Light) are almost indistinguishable from each other.
As the table shows, in 2013 Micro and Light Cars accounted for 136,300 sales, equivalent to a 12 per cent share of the overall Australian new car market.
Sales and market share have continued to decline in a mostly linear fashion since then, reaching their lowest levels during the peak of COVID (less than a third of the 2013 tally).
Even with the small rally since then taken into account, by the end of 2022, sales and market share of Micro and Light Cars will be almost a third of the 2013 total.
A key reason for this beyond changing consumer sentiment – and until recently low interest rates – is the drive for car brands to fit more and more driver assistance and luxury features into even the cheapest cars, thus driving up prices at a rate which is higher than wage growth.
Because this segment is so cost sensitive, that hurts. It also means buyers may just bite the bullet and buy the bigger vehicle because the cost difference over the payoff period isn’t really that great.
Correlation and causation don’t always line up, but consider: In 2013 the Small SUV segment had 6.6 percent market share, out of a list of 20 models. By 2022 this market (currently divided into Light SUVs and Small SUVs) will account for 18.2 percent of the share, out of a total of 44 models.
So in a time period where the Micro/Light Car segment has plummeted to a third of its original size, the Light/Small SUV market share has tripled, and model selection has more than doubled.
Best selling Micro Car 2013-22
- Kia Picanto: 31,566 (2016-22)
- Mitsubishi Mirage: 29,740 (2013-22)
- Fiat 500: 12,705 (2013-22)
- Nissan Micra: 9513 (2013-17)
- Holden Spark: 8203 (2013-19)
Best-selling Passenger Cars 2013-22
- Mazda 2: 102,589 (2013-22)
- Toyota Yaris: 95,298 (2013-22)
- Hyundai Accent: 86,390 (2013-20)
- Suzuki Swift: 74,305 (2013-22)
- Kia Rio: 67,256 (2013-22)
- Volkswagen Polo: 59,174 (2013-22)
- Honda Jazz: 55,028 (2013-21)
- MG 3: 41,733 (2017-22)
- Holden Barina: 40,034 (2013-19)
- Hyundai i20: 39,865 (2013-15, 2021-22)
Micro and Light Car Sales – a decade down
Micro and Light car sales, stocks and options are tracked