The Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus compacts are being squeezed as premium competitors such as the Mercedes-Benz A class and SUVs from all brands steal market share from the volume players in Europe's third-largest segment.
Sales of volume compacts grew 3.1 percent to 1.9 million units through October last year compared with a 9.2 percent gain to 632,000 units for premium compacts. The rise gave models from brands such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes a 24.6 percent share of the overall segment's volume, up from 23.5 during the first 10 months of 2015, according to sales data from JATO Dynamics. Meanwhile compact SUV sales increased 20 percent to 1 million in the first 10 months of 2016.
The squeeze from premium brands and from cheaper compacts hit both the segment's top-selling Golf, which lost almost 40,000 sales compared to the year before, and the Focus, which slipped from second in the segment sales chart to fourth behind the Opel/Vauxhall Astra and the Skoda Octavia.
The Focus was face-lifted in 2015 but that wasn't enough to stay ahead of its newer, less-expensive rivals. “The Focus is not cheap enough to be considered an affordable compact, and is not modern enough to be a real alternative to the new Astra or new Megane,” JATO Dynamics global analyst Felipe Munoz told Automotive News Europe.
The new Astra was the biggest winner among models in the segment’s top 10, moving into second place with an increase of 29 percent to more than 200,000 units through October. Sales of the new Renault Megane, which launched in January, rose by 7 percent to rank ninth among all compacts sold in Europe.