Small Cars Grow in Popularity

By Colin Bird  on November 28, 2011

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Compact and subcompact cars are booming in popularity and could become the best-selling vehicle category by year's end, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

This would push midsize sedans from their prominent position as the American car of choice. Midsize sedans have been best-sellers for more than two decades now, according to the Detroit News.

While vehicles like the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and Honda Accord remain some of the best-selling cars in the country, the category overall is growing more slowly than small cars. Midsized cars are up 7.5% for the year, but small cars are up nearly twice that at 14.3%, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This year, some small car models have topped the monthly best-sellers’ list. The Toyota Corolla was No. 1 in January and Chevrolet Cruze topped the list in June for passenger cars.

Even if small cars don’t beat out midsizers this year, their trajectory is rising faster than that of their bigger brethren. By 2015, small cars should make up about 20% of the market, while midsized cars will only account for 14%, according to J.D. Power.

There are a few forces behind the change in consumer preference: For one, small cars aren’t that small anymore, with many having the same interior space as midsize cars had in the last decade. Second, consumers' desire for more efficient (cheaper) cars has fueled the change. Finally, government-mandated corporate average fuel economy standards are putting pressure on carmakers to build more palatable small cars.

Sales of midsize cars shrink as buyers go smaller (Detroit News)

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