Focus on car segments

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When buying a new car a multitude of requirements influence our decision to purchase. Safety, versatility, affordability and style are just some of the factors that may shape our thought process, not to mention the environmental credentials that a particular vehicle may possess. With this in mind, automotive experts GMAP Consulting have analysed trends in car segments from anonymised DVLA Parc data which spans the last 40 years and have unveiled some very interesting results....

Segment Trends by Year:

  • Overall the most popular vehicle segment for consumers since 1970 has been the small family car which accounts for 28% of all UK registered cars in this period. The supermini segment follows close behind with a 25% market share and the medium family car with a 19% share. Together these segments account for 72% of all UK cars registered since 1970.

  • The top segment for the first quarter of 2009 is the supermini, accounting for 28% of all cars registered in this period. Second to this is the small family car with a 27% market share. These segments typically include models such as the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Focus which provide consumers with a stylish, safe and economical option in these credit crunch times. It is therefore unsurprising to learn that together these two segments account for 55% of all cars registered so far in 2009.

  • Medium family cars peaked in popularity in 1994 and held a 23% market share. However, since this point the popularity of the segment has declined year upon year. This down turn could be due to innovation in the small family and supermini segments, and has thus reduced the need for consumers to buy medium family vehicles. This segment only accounted for 16% of all vehicles registered in the first quarter of 2009.
  • Large family cars peaked in popularity from 1987 to 1989, although the segment still only managed to ascertain 11% of the market share. Since the late 1980's improvements across other segments has reduced the need for consumers to buy into this high priced niche market and as such the share of the segment only stands at 3% today.

  • It is interesting to note that the sports car segment peaked in popularity during 1977 and accounted for 36% of all UK vehicles registered that year. During this time sports cars were extremely fashionable and relatively inexpensive in comparison to today's standards. In the successive years this figure declined and now stands at 3%. Factors attributing to this decline include changing market demands, especially safety and pollution legislation and the evolution of the hot hatchback.

Segment Trends by Manufacturer:

  • Mercedes account for 21% of all large family cars and 25% of all large executive cars. It is unsurprising to learn that this prestigious and exclusive brand dominates each of the high end segments.

  • Land Rover still lead the way in 4x4 technology and have managed to maintain a 34% share of the large 4x4 segment, despite recent additions from Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

  • Ford dominates the market in the production of the small family (19%), small supermini (26%) and MPV (31%) segments, typical models include the Ford Ka and Ford Focus.

  • Fiat dominates the Mini segment with models such as the Fiat 500 and holds a 42% market share. Models such as the Fiat 500 provide consumers with a small, stylish and safe option that won't cost the earth.

  • Interestingly Mazda holds a 14% share of the UK sports car segment. The most popular Mazda sports car model is the MX-5 which is fun, stylish and cheap to own.

  • Overall most brands specialise in the production of certain segments types. The more prestigious brands such as Mercedes and BMW concentrate most of their production efforts on the medium and large family segments. Whilst brands such as Ford, Vauxhall, VW and Peugeot focus their production efforts on both the small family and supermini segments. Citroen and Suzuki focus on producing vehicles that fall into the small super mini segment.

This analysis has been performed by GMAP using current market statistics from the anonymised DVLA Parc data.