What is the definition of a ‘successful’ car? Naturally, selling in the biggest overall volume is one measure. But not the only one.
In some ways it’s more useful to look at vehicles that own an outsized market-share within their respective segments, against obvious competitors.
While not always a relevant metric to consumers, vehicle segments put cars together based on dimensions and price and therefore offer vital context.
To show that overall sales don’t always correlate to maximum segment dominance, consider the Toyota HiLux. It’s the nation’s top-selling vehicle, but its share of the 4×4 Ute market is 22 per cent, because it has a number of hugely popular competitors.
A majority of the market’s 32 segments tell a similar tale: a few leading models with healthy, but certainly not overwhelming, market shares.
But there are some ‘yardstick’ cars that sell in (sometimes) lower overall numbers than the absolute chart-toppers, yet hold higher share percentages against immediate competitors. They include:
The tiny Kia owns a dominant 74.4 per cent share of the dwindling Micro Car segment in 2020, with 2034 sales.
Its closest competitors at the market’s bottom end are demonstrably inferior superminis in the Mitsubishi Mirage (411 sales YTD) and Fiat 500 (288).
Picanto’s Micro Car segment share over the years:
- 2020: 74.4 per cent
- 2019: 80.5 per cent
- 2018: 69 per cent
The sales database splits the Light Car segment in two. The lion’s share goes to cars priced below $25,000, led by the MG 3, Toyota Yaris, Volkswagen Polo, Mazda 2, Kia Rio and Suzuki Swift.
But in the more ‘premium’ part of the segment, Oxford’s retro icon dominates. In 2020 its 838 year-to-date sales give it 69.8 per cent market share. The only competitor of note is Audi’s A1 (321).
Mini Hatch’s Light Car > $25k segment share over the years:
- 2020: 69.8 per cent
- 2019: 79.1 per cent
- 2018: 53.5 per cent
The premium part of the Small Car market has bucked every trend this year and grown in popularity, with sales up 13 per cent.
The main driver of this has been the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, which has 46.6 per cent market share and 3930 YTD sales. No competitor comes close, with the most obvious being the BMW 1 Series (1454) and Audi A3 (1421).
A-Class’s Small Car > $40k segment share over the years:
- 2020: 46.6 per cent
- 2019: 37.2 per cent
- 2028: 28.9 per cent
Sales of the humble mid-sized sedan and wagon have plummeted in the face of SUV growth, with one exception.
Toyota’s Camry – the hybrid models in particular – has cornered a 68.8 per cent share if its segment in 2020 with 7799 sales. No other competitor (Mazda 6 and Skoda Octavia the two closest) have even topped the 1000 mark
Camry’s Medium Car < $60k segment share over the years:
- 2020: 68.8 per cent
- 2019: 64.6 per cent
- 2018: 53.1 per cent
The halo Kia doesn’t sell in objectively high numbers, but following the Holden Commodore’s demise it’s become the clear leader in the affordable large car category.
The rear-drive Korean has found 1048 buyers in 2020, equal to 55.5 per cent share. The Skoda Superb has found 129 by contrast, though stock has been a little restricted for the Czech.
Stinger’s Large Car < $70k segment share over the years:
- 2020: 55.5 per cent
- 2019: 20.5 per cent
- 2018: 16.3 per cent
The third Kia in this list proves the brand is particularly good at dominating smaller-scale segments abandoned by competitors. It’s a good business if you can get it.
While people-mover sales are dwindling and rivals like the Toyota Tarago have gone to the great scrapyard in the sky, the Carnival keeps trucking on. There have been 2456 sold this year, enough for 57.7 per cent market share. The only rival that comes slightly close is the Honda Odyssey (667 sales YTD).
Carnival’s People Movers < $60k segment share over the years:
- 2020: 57.7 per cent
- 2019: 54.8 per cent
- 2018: 53.6 per cent
It’s no spring chicken, but Ford’s everyman muscle car still owns more than half the budget sports car market.
Its 1882 YTD sales give it 51.7 per cent share. That means’s it’s outsold the BMW 2 Series, Mazda MX-5, Toyota 86, Nissan 370Z and all the others in the segment combined.
Mustang’s Sports Car < $80k segment share over the years:
- 2020: 51.7 per cent
- 2019: 51.5 per cent
- 2018: 53.8 per cent
The car sales database recently expanded to include a Light SUV segment below Small SUV. The Mazda migrated across, leaving the larger segment to its CX-30 sibling, and now dominates its corner more than ever.
Its 7501 YTD sales equal 52.3 per cent market share. The Hyundai Venue (1959 sales) and Volkswagen T-Cross (1072) are mere specks in the rear-view mirror at this stage.
CX-3’s Light SUV segment share over the years:
- 2020: 52.3 per cent
- 2019: NA
- 2018: NA
Toyota’s big staple makes mincemeat of its only categorised competitor, Nissan’s Patrol. Sales this year sit at 7339, giving it 85 per cent market share.
Head beyond the city limits and these things become even more ubiquitous, despite often pushing or eclipsing six-figure price tags (even though the segment in which it competes is defined as Large SUV < $100k).
LandCruiser’s Large SUV < $100k segment share over the years:
- 2020: 85 per cent
- 2019: 87.6 per cent
- 2018: 91.6 per cent
There are commuter versions of the Renault Master, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Iveco Daily, but one must wonder why they bother.
The Toyota’s 1291 sales this year give it a 90.7 per cent share of the sub-20-seat bus market.
HiAce’s Light Bus < 20 Seats segment share over the years:
While the Renault Kangoo, Peugeot Partner and Fiat Doblo are out there, the market opts overwhelmingly for the Volkswagen Caddy.
It has a 69.2 per cent share of the Van under 2.5t GVM segment, equal to 959 sales YTD.
Caddy’s Van/CC <= 2.5t segment share over the years:
- 2020: 69.2 per cent
- 2019: 62.7 per cent
- 2018: 63.1 per cent
Honourable mentions go to the Porsche 911 which has 33.5 per cent share of the ‘Sports Car > $200k’ market, the Mercedes-Benz -Class coupe/cabriolet that owns 38.1 per cent of the ‘Sports Car > $80k’ segment, and the Toyota HiLux that owns 38.6 per cent of the ‘4×2 PU/CC’ field.
If you have any questions – perhaps you want to know how your car is selling – ask in the comments and a member of the CarExpert team will respond.