Compact cars slipped to become Europe’s fourth-largest segment behind compact SUVs in the first nine months of the year after global supply shortages forced the Volkswagen Group to cut production of key models.
Segment sales stood at 980,864 through September, down 16 percent, according to figures from market researcher Dataforce.
The VW Golf retained its position as the segment’s best-seller but lost its traditional place as Europe’s most popular model to both the Peugeot 208 and Dacia Sandero small cars after sales dipped 25 percent to 132,989.
The Golf lost 44,974 sales compared with the year before, while the Leon, from sibling brand Seat, lost 38,395 registrations, the second-worst hit in the segment. The third-most-affected car in the segment was another VW Group model, the Skoda Octavia, which lost 29,097 sales compared with the same period in 2021.
VW Group’s order bank in Europe is now running at six months, equivalent to 1.9 million cars, Chief Financial Officer Arno Antlitz said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call last week.
The constraints have hit the company’s vehicles in volume segments the hardest as the company prioritizes higher-margin model lines.
“Not all the channels are fully open,” Antlitz said. “It's pretty clear that in a time where we don't have enough semis [semiconductors] or enough capacity we would concentrate on the more profitable channels." VW Group’s troubles maintaining its supply of mainstream compacts has elevated its rivals, with the Toyota Corolla moving ahead of the Octavia into second place in the sector after nine months despite an 11 percent sales decline for the Japanese model (see chart, below).