Automakers are increasing technology levels and phasing out a weak-selling body style in Europe's minicar segment to maintain consumer interest and cut costs.
The moves come as brands such as Fiat, Volkswagen and Toyota battle in a sector that is forecast to decline for a second consecutive year in 2017 and remain at about 1.23 million units until 2020, according to LMC Automotive.
Despite the predicted slowdown and expected stagnation, minicars still accounted for 8.3 percent of the total European car market during the first quarter and ranked as the fifth-largest segment of the 24 that Automotive News Europe tracks with help from market researcher JATO Dynamics. The sector is expected to retain its share of the total market. "Minicars don't face direct competition from small SUVs, so their registrations should remain stable over the next few years," Felipe Munoz, global analyst for JATO Dynamics, told ANE.