• Apr 28, 2006

AutoWeek attended the SEMA International Auto Salon, a car show for sport compacts and the segment of the aftermarket industry serving sport compacts, and AW writers were sad to see the sorry state the Salon has come to -- moving from the Los Angeles Convention Center to Atlantic City, and finally, to the Fort Washington Expo Center, where the show was small, the roof leaked, and the fit and finish was less than high-end. They came away wondering, is the sport compact market on its way out?

Maybe, but probably not. The moral of the story -- consumer tastes are changing away from Honda Civics and their ilk in favor of a variety of different cars. Sport compact or not, in these hard economic times only the fittest will survive. That said, we fully expect the nascent European compact class (Volkswagen GTI, Audi A3, MINI Cooper, Volvo S30, etc.) to strike a major chord with the tuner culture, perhaps eating into the largely Japanese-badged front-wheel-drive import scene.



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  • 18 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Re: #9

      You must be of the "F&F" movement to refer to it as the movement that encompases all sport compacts. Believe it or not the sport compact market was alive and beautiful before F&F came out, if anything, that movie ruined it for those of us who weren't idiots.

      How can you lump the Mini, Scion, Civic and Subaru WRX into the same tub, the mini is hardly a sport compact yet more an underpriced BMW with costing similar to the WRX but power similar to the Civic, hardly worth a mention. The scion not even comparable to the type-R and WRX, closer to the mini in power yet half its price. It sounds as though you are indeed part of the F&F generation of modders, all about the look and "baaaaaaaam" of the car, nothing about the skill of driving it or the ability to mod it without drilling a wing the size of kansas into the trunk.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think that the European brands are really going to become popular now. More and more kids are understanding why a sleeper can be a lot better then a 10 year old Civic with flashy wings and graphics. My city used to be filled with Hondas and the like, and now people are switching to (in my opinion) better cars like VW Jettas or Audis.
      • 8 Years Ago
      you guys musta left out that most of the current cars are harder to modify anyways. its do-able but then most newer cars have build in ice into the car so replacing alot of the ice will wreck your interior. also theres the fact that most mechanical stuff is no longer tunable either becuase the manufacturer did a better job in tuning or everything is so computerized that the car will not respond well to any kinda tweek.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The civic generation is done.

      The EVO's and the STI's are now the new GENERATION raiceburners of the century.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Well yeah the fast and furious movie fad had dead and gone. At least the good movie of the 3. But I dunno If I agree. Its just that most of the "hardcore" racers are going to the drift type racers. So that kinda leaves out most of the compact market. Like Honda Civc, Subaru WRX (Sti), Mini, Scion. Also its start getten pricey! All the parts and then what.. Either A). You get older B). You crash your modded ride and then your out of money. And your ins. won't cover your modded cost. Or C). You get sick of every person that sees your modded ride and thinks you wanna race. LOL! But in all honesty I love doing it. But Most of that kinda fad loven generation has kinda moved on. Fads come and go. But also I like to throw in the mix. We are hitten the gas price hike again like years ago. So Gas prices going up might also be a factor. So Thats my 2 cents. P.s~ I have a modded WRX '03 and I still love it. I always get looks. Its great stuff being different. Peace
      • 8 Years Ago
      #3, for most people (ie, the majority, middle class people, who average $35k a year) the economy is much worse than it was even 5 years ago.

      Jobs creation has been lower than any time since the 1940s. Real purchasing power has declined -- gas is $3 a gallon, which makes a real dent in discretionary spending at these income levels.

      Tarted-up rice racers are pretty much the domain of the younger set, not the folks who have been the beneficiary of large tax breaks. So it is no surprise that under these conditions the market would recede a bit.

      I agree that the civic generation is over -- too expensive, bloated and associated with "old".

      Perhaps the Fit and Versa will do a bit better with this crowd -- they're cheap, easy on the gas, and apparently handle well.
      • 8 Years Ago
      What has happened? Magazines have concentrated way too heavily on Civics, to the near exclusion of other cars. Honda itself, has walked away from the market they opened up. The Civic Si of 2002-2004 nearly took the brand down the drain. And finally, like any "trend" it has been overdone...if not to death, than nearly so.
      • 8 Years Ago
      That One Person and StoneMan,
      I totally agree. And I was under the impression that a "riced up" car (minus all the racial undertones) was just a sub-compact with nitrous and a huge pipe, no real engine mods.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Just you know i was comparing to "drifter cars". Rear wheel drive rides. Thats all I ment my friend. No offence to you at all. :-)
      • 8 Years Ago
      Just you know i was comparing to "drifter cars". Rear wheel drive rides. Thats all I ment my friend. No offence to you at all. :-)
      • 8 Years Ago
      Based on what I see here in the SF Bay Area, I think there's several driving forces:

      1) Decline in economy - The industry's based primarily off of discretionary income. The economy, for the most part, has slowed down. This inherently leads to a decline in those secondary consumer needs, i.e. less people dining out, etc.

      2) Market saturation - There are many hands in the cookie jar, some with good, solid products, and other crappy poorly-designed products. When the market was new & prime, circa 1999-2000, people didn't mind second-rate products (think AutoZone F&F-based items), but as more players got into the market, user expectations increased, people got burned from shoddy products, and just gave up on the customized

      3) Maturing demographic - Most early adopters are growing old, and have moved on from their Civics to a 3-series (young professionals) or Accords (family guy). Their choices become a bit more sensible and/or their desires are significantly different, e.g. owning a luxury vehicle vs. owning a "tight ride dropped to the floor."

      Again, just empirical datapoints from this neck of the woods.
      • 8 Years Ago
      i love my lancer evolution.
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