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Small car demand spikes amid downsizing

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Growing demand: small cars dominate the new arrivals in this Bermuda Motors lot

Small cars are a big hit in Bermuda as sales jumped 15.3 per cent last November compared to the same month the previous year.

Lionel Burt, in charge of sales for the Kia marque at Bermuda Motors, said the firm had just taken a delivery of 30 cars, many of them the bestselling A class Picanto model.

But Glen Smith, managing director of Auto Solutions in Pembroke, said sales of small SUVs at his seven-marque dealers showed demand for larger vehicles as well.

Mr Burt said: “It’s been going very well for us. We’re selling on average about 50 cars a month. That’s pretty good.”

He said that older people downsizing from larger cars were a major contributing factor to the boom in sales.

Mr Burt added: “They seem to be coming in and buying, plus there are the foreign individuals.

“But the really young people, we’re not seeing them so much these days, for whatever reason.”

Mr Burt said: “People are downsizing — the Picanto most popular. We do a lot of those per month. We’ve just got another 30 off the docks and there are more on the way.”

Mr Burt added: “People don’t want to pay that H class $1,600 a year. The little Picanto is about $400 a year.

“With a lot of people, children have moved out and the parents don’t need that large car any more.”

Mr Burt said the Picanto was his top seller at Kia’s Hamilton showroom, followed by its stablemate, the hatchback Kia Rio, which falls in the E class for licensing.

He added that the Kia Soul, a crossover mini-SUV style, was also popular with buyers looking for more affordable transport.

Mr Burt said: “People often don’t want a full-size SUV and people also want to be that little higher off the ground. A lot of people like that.”

He was speaking after the Retail Sales Index figures showed successive increases in sales volumes for the three months to November 2016.

Mr Burt said: “We did have a sale going on in November and I think Auto Solutions had a sale a week or two later, which may have contributed.”

Mr Smith added: “We represent seven brands and we have all different classes, from class A to class H.

“We pretty much fulfil the small SUV market, which has gone extremely well. It’s not just smaller cars, it’s larger cars we are selling.”

The company sells SUVs from Suzuki, Hyundai and Honda, as well as the new Mazda CX3, which has just arrived in Bermuda.

Mr Smith said: “We’ve also been selling in the mid-range, which has been very successful.

“November was a fantastic month for us and January was phenomenal for us. It was the best January we have ever had — we sold 70 vehicles, commercials and personal.

“What it could be due to is that when a brand has a new vehicle coming out, sometimes there are production delays, so people buy on spec, so that gets pushed back so you’ve got pent-up demand. It’s a combination of pent-up demand, confidence in the market and also the banks are open to financing vehicles.”

Big seller: Lionel Burt, of Bermuda Motors, shows off a Kia Picanto