The compact car segment has slipped to the fourth largest in Europe from second as volume automakers facing restricted supplies because of the semiconductor shortage prioritize sales of their more profitable SUVs.
The segment that encompasses European favorites such as Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus was passed by both small SUVs and compact SUVs in the first eight months, according to data from JATO Dynamics.
The sector is forecast to account for 13 percent of overall sales in Europe this year, down from 14 percent last year, as the chip squeeze continues.
"We expect more profitable, larger vehicles to take some priority within the chip-shortage situation," Sammy Chan senior analyst at LMC Automotive said.
The segment's share will return to 14 percent next year as new models such the Opel/Vauxhall Astra and Peugeot 308 make an impact, LMC expects, but it predicts that volume will dip again in 2024 and 2025.
The Golf, also Europe's best-selling model through August, remains on top of the compact segment, but there have been several changes to the rest of the top 10.
The worst hit model has been the Ford Focus, which has fallen to No. 6, down from second in 2019 and third last year, because of a 49 percent sales decline.
Ford lost 60 percent of its European production in the second quarter because of the chip shortage. The Focus still can't be ordered from Ford's factory in Saarlouis, the company's consumer website in Germany says.
The Focus for years was Ford's No. 2 seller in Europe behind the Fiesta small car. Now it ranks fourth behind the Fiesta, Puma small SUV and Kuga compact SUV.
The Golf and the segment's No. 2-seller, the Octavia from VW Group subsidiary Skoda, were down by smaller amounts than the Focus (see chart, below) compared with the same period last year, when sales were negatively affected by COVID-19 lockdowns.