Subcompacts and compacts dominated the 2011 Detroit Auto Show

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 20, 2011

Much of the attention of those who attended the Detroit Auto Show was focused on subcompacts and compacts. Among the most notable are the Asian entries, which include a revamped Honda Civic, a small sporty coupe from Hyundai called the Veloster and a downsized Toyota Prius.

However, such traditional small-car models are competing with the Detroit 3's most serious offerings in decades. Fiat, which is Chrysler Group's partner, is launching the 500 minicar.

General Motors Co. unveiled the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic, which will compete with the Honda Fit, the newly launched Ford Fiesta and others. meet the demandFord Motor Co. will put its redesigned Ford Focus up against the newly launched Hyundai Elantra, Chevrolet Cruze and others.

The domestic brands are settling in a small-car segment that should grow faster than the broader market in coming years - especially if gasoline prices continue to rise. Plus, small cars will help with fuel-economy standards that get steadily tougher through 2016.

The entries also indicate just how automakers view small cars now. It used to be that companies considered these models to be loss leaders but they tolerated them because they help them meet the corporate average fuel economy standards and this enables them to continue to sell gas-guzzling and higher-margin pickups and SUVs.

Jeff Schuster, head of global forecasting for J.D. Power and Associates, calls this group of smaller vehicles from the Detroit 3 as being “truly competitive” for the first time ever. [via autonews - sub. required]

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