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CAP trade watch: The C sector phenomenon

One of the quiet revolutions that has taken place over the years has been the development of the C sector into something more than a small family car.

Nowhere else has the inventiveness of manufacturers been more ably demonstrated and no other segment can match it for broadness of appeal.

Take the expansion in the number of derivatives, for example. The Volkswagen Golf started with 56 derivatives available for the first shape, built between 1984 and 1993. Today there are 97 versions of the fourth shape Golf available, including Golf Plus.

Ford Focus has gone from 60 derivatives for the first shape (1998–2001) to 284 today, including the C-Max and coupé cabriolet. Vauxhall Astra was available in 102 variants for the first shape, between 1984 and 1993. Now there are 219 derivatives available, including the twin top and sport hatch.

The C sector has always provided the ‘bread and butter’ backbone of the private car market, with a lineage that can be traced back through some of the biggest icons in personal transport, such as the Morris Minor, Volkswagen Beetle and Austin 1100 all the way to the beginning of true family car ownership and the Model T Ford.

As a springboard for the creation of sub-sectors, it is unmatched. The creation of the compact MPV is perhaps the clearest illustration of this.

The rise of the typical C sector model from a standard small family car to an aspirational vehicle in its own right is another notable factor. This has resulted in the C sector closing the gap in terms of luxury features.

Further exploration of these factors in the development of the C Sector, along with residual values issues are provided in the latest CAP Market Brief The lower medium family car sector – evolution, current shape and future prospects.

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