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Compact changes - Smaller sedans enter new-car market

Published:Sunday | March 29, 2015 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
The Suzuki Ciaz sedan at Stewart’s Auto Sales, South Camp Road, Kingston, last Tuesday.
Hyundai Accent
2014 Toyota Yaris · 1.3L engine VVTi · ABS Brakes w/brake Assist · Fabric seats · Power door locks · Dual Airbags · Keyless entry · Anti-theft Immobilizer Vehicle Tracker

In a short space of time, there have been a number of notable changes in the compact-sedan segment of Jamaica's new-car market. Nissan and Toyota have introduced the refreshed Versa and Yaris, respectively, while Honda's new-look City earned a lot of attention at the Automobile Dealers Association (ADA) Auto Show late last year at the National Arena.

Suzuki has come on strong with the all-new Ciaz in the last two weeks, all this activity in a market that has had fresh looks at Hyundai's Grand i10 and Accent also includes the popular Ford Focus, Kia Rio, and a choice of Mazdas, among others.

It makes for intense competition in a market that represents just nine per cent of new-car sales, according to ADA chairman Kent LaCroix. However, with their prices and generally outstanding fuel economy, along with the inclusion of features normally found on larger, more expensive vehicles, it could grow.


Young professionals

LaCroix said the compact sedans appeal to the young professional "and persons who want to move up from smaller cars." Those sub-compacts account for seven per cent of new-car sales in Jamaica.

In addition, he said, at a price point which goes up to about $3.3 million and starts much lower, depending on the make and trim level, LaCroix said the compact sedan is a pull "for those who want to purchase new".

The engine size ranges from 1,300 to 1600 cc (1.3 to 1.6 litres), making for good fuel economy.

However, the compact sedan is a city block and more behind the most popular new-vehicle choice in Jamaica, which is the mid-size SUV. More than 50 per cent of new-vehicle purchases are in this market segment.

In terms of the compact cars' features, LaCroix placed it in the context of a general move to make vehicles as attractive as possible. "What you find happening is, many of the vehicles are coming standard with things that once you would have had to purchase as add-ons," LaCroix said. This ramps up the level of the standard package.

Still, LaCroix said, dealers will import not only one trim level of a model, but a range from the low to the higher end.