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Old 06-04-2018, 02:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Small / economy car deathwatch: we've passed "peak econobox" again

We have passed "peak economy car" in North America.

Again! (This seems to go in cycles.)

Just over 10 years ago, when EcoModder started, there were only a handful of econoboxes available in the States:
  • Honda Fit
  • Mazda 2
  • Toyota Yaris
  • Chevy Aveo
  • Hyundai Accent/Kia Rio
But the high & rising price of fuel at that time (as well as the relatively low fuel economy of their larger vehicles) spurred automakers to make many more economy cars available.

Fast forward to today, and even though gas prices have crept back up to 3 year highs, small cars are being dropped from line-ups at a pretty rapid clip.

Please bow your heads to pay respects to the dearly departed (or imminently departing)...

Mazda 2 (one of the first to go)


Ford Fiesta (especially the 1.0L, 3-cyl turbo)


Ford Focus (especially the 1.0L, 3-cyl turbo)


Dodge Dart (especially the "Aero" eco-version)


Chevy Spark (rumour is it will be replaced by a mini-CUV)


Chevy Sonic (already essentially replaced by the CUV based on the same chassis)

Chevy Cruze (rumour, but assembly shifts have been cut back; will miss the ECO and diesel options)


Hyundai Accent (hatchback - sedan is new for 2018... though you can still get a Kia Rio hatch, for now)


Fiat 500 (Friday, Marchionne said "Fiat isn't working" in North America)


Smart dropped the internal combustion versions of the Fortwo, so it's EV only now. How long will that last?


VW Beetle ... (does this count?)
Did I miss any?

Chrysler has also dropped the 200, but that doesn't count as an economy car. And Ford is killing off all its cars (including the Fusion hybrid), except the Mustang.

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Old 06-04-2018, 03:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 06-04-2018, 03:17 PM   #3 (permalink)
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9 or 10 years ago the volt was a really cool looking concept. It turned out to be a Buick.

Then when gas gets back near $4 a gallon and everyone freaks out it will be a scramble to see who can bring the economy cars back the fastest. It will be the imports and GM will be playing catch up, ford will be caught with their pants down, and dodge will be totally lost unveiling some 9mpg car or truck at the worst possible time.

I stated looking for a leaf when gas prices were at something like a 6 or 8 year low.
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Old 06-04-2018, 03:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Not really sure how they were ever a thing in the first place.

I can get a much better used car that gets as good or better fuel economy then these stripped down econoboxes. Why would I buy a brand new econobox for $15k when I can get a 2 year old Prius plug-in for $2k less, that has more features, safety, fuel economy, and utility?

Never understood why someone would buy a new Aveo, which is an awful car, when for the same money they could buy a few year old Lexus, Acura, etc, etc.

I get that some people like tiny cars because they live in crowded urban environments. Perhaps then it makes sense to consider something like the Fit. The Yaris offended me first by the stupid name, then by seeing the speedo in the center of the dash rather than in front of the driver. I declined to test drive one after that.
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Old 06-04-2018, 04:25 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redpoint5 View Post
...The Yaris offended me first by the stupid name, then by seeing the speedo in the center of the dash rather than in front of the driver. I declined to test drive one after that.
I was torn over that lol. I wanted an Echo/Yaris due to it's superior FE, but went with the Civic because I couldn't stand the center dash cluster. Not to mention the feminine looking design in both the exterior and especially the interior.

Maybe this will mean that these smaller cars will become even cheaper now that they're out of production? Kind of like the Saturns?
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Old 06-04-2018, 04:49 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mpg_numbers_guy View Post
Maybe this will mean that these smaller cars will become even cheaper now that they're out of production? Kind of like the Saturns?
I had assumed (probably incorrectly) that cars that go out of production increase in value, since you can no longer buy new ones, and there is a fixed number of used ones. Perhaps people are more concerned about parts availability, or simply don't consider the model since it's no longer advertised and in their mind.

If that's the case, I expect to get a great deal on a used Fusion Energi when they stop production.

My compact, low utility, fuel efficient vehicle is my motorcycle.
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Old 06-04-2018, 04:59 PM   #7 (permalink)
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When Chevrolet killed the Metro, were there any other shoebox-class cars on the market?

I forgot about the center cluster! Who thought that was a good idea?! As I recall, it was not symmetrical, but would it only need different trim for both left- and right-hand drive?

Toyota owners told me they liked having the speedometer out of the way, but when I dug deeper, they admitted they did not look at it.
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Old 06-04-2018, 05:08 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redpoint5 View Post
Never understood why someone would buy a new Aveo, which is an awful car, when for the same money they could buy a few year old Lexus, Acura, etc, etc.

You forget that you're not a normal person.

Normal people don't want the hassle of hunting for an appropriate used car with an unknowable history that some other owner has previously farted in. It's easier and nicer to just pick a colour from a row of identical ones with that new car smell.

Also: it's easier to get financing for a new car -- especially long-term financing, which lowers payments dramatically, which is arguably what lower income econobox shoppers want.

And let's not forget the full warranty on the new car. Epitomy of peace of mind vs. a scary used car experience.

Having said all that, *I* (and most people on this forum, I bet) agree with your reasoning. We're not normal either.


So let's not convince normal people not to buy brand new econoboxes... how else am I going to buy cheap used ones a decade or more later??
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Old 06-04-2018, 05:21 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redpoint5 View Post
I had assumed (probably incorrectly) that cars that go out of production increase in value, since you can no longer buy new ones, and there is a fixed number of used ones. Perhaps people are more concerned about parts availability, or simply don't consider the model since it's no longer advertised and in their mind.
It's not like it's a sports car or a limited production automobile. I was thinking of vehicles such as Aleros and other Oldsmobiles, Saturns, and the like. Pretty much any of them can be found for $1000 even with only 100K miles on it. Most of the ones I see that are $2000 or more have like <70K miles on them. And neither of them are really bad vehicles like the Neon.
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Old 06-04-2018, 06:14 PM   #10 (permalink)
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A friend had a 2012 Civic. The air conditioning went out. She traded it in for a new Toyota and accepted $4,500 for the trade. Kelley says it was worth $6,500 as a trade-in and $9,200 private party. I do not have any idea what was wrong with the air conditioning, perhaps recharging the refrigerant would have been enough for a while.

I do not know if she is normal or if I ever ever met a normal person, but every year millions of people trade in cars for less they could have received on their own.

I cannot find the video now, but someone explained that some dealerships have a trick to raise the sale price of a new car to cover the trade-in, so that you effectively give away your car for free.

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