It recently occurred to me that cute, little cars are pretty much dead. A few months ago, Volkswagen announced that the Beetle is headed for cancellation as of this summer. The Fiat 500 isn’t selling in big numbers anymore. And every time I walk into a Mini dealership, I’m told how good sales used to be — but aren’t anymore.
The list goes on. The charming little Ford Fiesta is gone, and so is its bigger brother, the Focus — which, while not quite cute, was indeed little. The Scion iQ died. Smart just announced the impending demise of the fortwo from the North American market, after announcing the switch to an EV-only brand just a few years earlier.
Put simply: the little stuff is going away.
The little stuff didn’t start out being cute. Back in the 1940s and 1950s, as Europe was recovering from World War II, each major European power built a little car that helped get its respective country back on its feet: for the U.K., it was the Mini; for Italy, it was the Fiat 500; for Germany, it was the Volkswagen Beetle; for France, it was the Citroen 2CV. These cars, at the time, were just transportation — but they were so ingrained into each country’s lore that they became icons of each nation. And then, as time went on, they were replicated: there was a new 500, a new Mini, a new Beetle, and a bunch of other cute little cars to match.
And now it all seems to be coming apart. Gas prices are cheap, but that’s not the only reason why crossovers seem to be winning the battle against little cars — there’s also the driving position, the practicality and the fact that crossovers now get about the same fuel economy as their car counterparts. But regardless of the reasoning, the reality seems to be true: small cars just aren’t doing it anymore. And the small cars we all gravitated toward 10 or 20 years ago — the Mini models, the Smart and the Beetle — are all slowing down in popularity.
Indeed, the party seems to be over in the world of the cute little car. Find a Volkswagen Beetle for sale