Thanks to much improved product offerings and rising gas prices, small cars are on pace to account for the largest slice of the United States market since 1993.
Sales of compact and sub-compact vehicles shot up 50 percent to 240,288 units last month, putting the segment on track to capture its largest share of the U.S. market in nearly two-decades. Through September small cars have account for 19.3 percent of the U.S. market, marking the highest percentage since 1993 when 20.5 percent of U.S. shoppers bought into the segment.
“Traditionally small cars were purchased by people who couldn’t afford anything else,” Jesse Toprak, an industry analyst for TrueCar.com, told Bloomberg. “Right now, that’s not the case. We see people choosing them because they find them more appealing.”
Automakers have embraced the U.S.' shift to smaller cars, offering luxury features in compacts that would have been unheard of just a few years ago. And, thanks to the segment's popularity, there are more quality choices than ever.
Of course part of the allure of small cars is improved fuel economy, with stubbornly high gas prices adding to the segment's popularity. Gas prices are averaging about $3.80 across the country, which is 10 percent higher than last year at this time. In some parts of the country gas prices are even higher, with supply issues pushing the price of a gallon of gas to $4.65 in California. Not surprisingly, the Golden State remains one of the strongest markets for compact cars.