The mini car is disappearing
The tiny car, the mini, is disappearing everywhere. What are the reasons for its demise? Its popularity is waning, and car manufacturers aren’t making much money with it. So, maybe the extra-small car can only survive when it goes completely electric.
More and more manufacturers take their smallest cars out of their portfolio. Ford, for example, has stopped selling the Ka+, Opel has scrapped its Karl and Adam. For both manufacturers, Fiesta and Corsa (B-segment) is now the smallest car you can buy.
Practically every manufacturer is thinking the same way. FCA boss, Mike Manley, has announced that the company will now concentrate on models with higher volumes and profit margins. The famous 500 is not in danger, the Panda is.
Now that FCA is probably going to merge with PSA, they will share platforms and other parts, so there is a big chance that the collaboration with Toyota on the A-segment car (Citroën C1, Peugeot 108, Toyota Aygo) will disappear.
Everybody who still has A-segment cars is struggling with the same problem. Only Renault has confirmed it will be going on with the Twingo. But the boss who confirmed this (Thierry Bolloré) is already gone.
High cost, low profit
What’s the problem with these cheap, low entry cars? The demand is decreasing, they are not easy to make compatible with the newest regulations, and most importantly, they don’t bring in much money. To attract buyers, they have to be cheap, so they can’t be very profitable.
That means that the bottom of the car market, the cheapest cars, is eroding rapidly. People also prefer to buy a somewhat larger car second-hand car, rather than spending some 10.000 euros on a small, basic new one.
There’s probably only one way to save the mini. Make it electric. In the city center, such a nimble small four-wheeler can attract people. Smart has moved to China to make all its cars electric. The VW Group is thinking of offering only electric versions of the new generation Up!, and Renault is talking about an electric Twingo, under the Zoë.
There is only one problem here. This small electric car will, especially in the beginning, have some trouble being affordable. It will be small but not cheap to buy, only in use. The price of batteries will have to come down even further. Renault has promised an electric car for under 10.000 euros in 2022. Wait and see.