BY BRIAN BYRNE
WITH the motor trade essentially in stasis at the moment, along with the uncertainty for consumers on what may happen over the next couple of months, maybe it’s not the time to be writing about cars.
Or maybe it is, because there are many people who, all else being equal, will still want new cars when things get back to whatever the new normal might be.
So for this week I’m looking at the small car segment, including the city cars which in themselves are quite a tiny part of the 16pc or so of the overall market.
In the short couple of months before the business went into suspension, Toyota’s Yaris was running in the lead, but closely followed by Renault’s Clio. Both are brand new versions of what have become the key
Followed on by Ford’s evergreen Fiesta nameplate and Volkswagen’s similarly viewed Polo, then the substantially further down Nissan Micra — between them they represent half of all small car sales in Ireland.
Part of that is good marketing and subsequent recognisability.
But it also represents that indefinably important element of owner experience. Owners talk about whether or not they’ve had positive experiences with their cars. Each of those brands has a heritage of reliability and that other very important indefinable, trust.
The next group are all in the under-1pc of total market share, but are nevertheless important in the overall scheme. So, in order of popularity, there are the Hyundai i20 and the brand’s new city car the i10.
SEAT’s Ibiza, Dacia’s Sandero and Peugeot’s 208 are in the next tranche, but that last is an outlier because the brand new version only on market in February will likely lift it significantly up the ladder.
The smallest sellers with any significance are Toyota’s diminutive but very capable Aygo, the Mini Hatch, Kia’s Rio, the Suzuki Swift, Citroen’s C3, Honda’s Jazz and the Mazda2. Both of those last should also be further up the scale, and in normal
times would be.
The brand and name missing from all those is Fiat. For some reason, the bottom has fallen out of the brand’s share in Ireland, probably because its main offerings of the 500 and derivatives, and the Panda, are worthy cars but very long in the tooth now. The numbers are dismal.
Last year the small car segment in Ireland was worth over 11,500 units in the first quarter.
This year that has toppled to just over 8,000. Which means that when the showrooms open again, there are going to be a lot of salespeople looking for buyers.
Depending on what happens, the 202 registration period could well be a very strong buyers’ market. The sellers will almost manhandle you into taking test drives.
Do a virtual wander around your favourite brands’ websites in the meantime.