Market Snapshot


Getting a big boost from 2007 newcomers, sales of subcompact cars shot up 41% during the first nine months of this year. Sales of the Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa and Honda Fit reached double and triple digits from January to September of this year, compared to the same period in 2006. One question remains, however: do subcompact car buyers accessorize their vehicles?

To help answer this question, SEMA surveyed automotive-enthusiast magazine subscribers and visitors to their websites, collectively referred to as the Automotive Lifestyles survey, to identify what, if any, car-customizing behavior exists among subcompact owners. Although a very small sample of subcompact owners was collected (only 1% of the over 3,300 enthusiasts that responded to this online survey over the last two months), it was enough to obtain a broad look at this group of consumers. A quick glance at the top 20 specialty-equipment products purchased by subcompact owners shows that these enthusiasts seek out performance modifications, including exhaust, headers and air intakes. 

The inexpensive price tag of most subcompacts means owners typically have money left over for customization, and specialty-equipment companies that traditionally build parts for larger compacts, such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, may want to take a closer look at the subcompact enthusiast market.

For more information, contact the SEMA Research & Information Center at 909/396-0289, ext. 118. Check out of the research reports available online at