Archives for February 2014

Luxury battle part one: Audi vs. BMW vs. Mercedes-Benz from 1997 to 2013

This article is the start of a series of sales analysis of the “German Big Three” premium automakers Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz in Europe. I will start a bit general, before zooming in on some notable trends and differences in strategy and sales. I’d like to hear what you think about these articles, so feel free to comment at the bottom of the page.

Mercedes-Benz-GLA-luxury-battle-European-salesThe German luxury automakers have grown faster than the overall market in the past 17 years, as their combined market share has increased from just over 10 percent of the market in 1997 to 16 percent in 2013. In 1997, just 60.000 units separated first place from third place, a figure that had only slightly grown in 2013, to 70.000 units. However, the path in between wasn’t as straightforward as you would expect from these numbers.… Continue Reading …

All-new models 2013: small crossovers hottest segment

In 2013, only 7 all-new models were introduced in Europe, and another 22 models celebrated their first full year of sales. With all-new models, I mean models that have no direct predecessor, they expand their brand’s line-up.

Renault-Captur-all-new-models-2013The most successful model launch is the Renault Captur, selling 84.085 units in Europe, in only 10 months on the market. The second best all-new model is the Peugeot 2008, which sold 58.672 units in 11 months, and the Chevrolet Trax takes the final spot on the podium, thanks to 17.658 sales in 10 months on the market.

Do you notice a trend here? Yes, small crossovers are booming business in Europe at the moment. The segment as a whole grew an astonishing 81% in 2013, without really cannibalizing on the subcompact, compact, or small MPV segments.… Continue Reading …

Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe Black Series true to its spiritual grandfather Pontiac GTO

This year, AMG will celebrate its 45th birthday. And 45 years is also what separates these two cars, which have more in common than just their color. The Pontiac GTO is considered the founder of the car segment that furiously wrote history under the name “Muscle Car”. The AMG has got all the credentials to be called a German Muscle Car, and the Black Series version even tops it off with a little more of all the good stuff!


No way red is the color of standstill!

This will make you see red! And it will make you see double as well! Driving a fast car can bump up your testosterone, especially with these two candidates. One may not look so mean, but the other makes no secret of its brutal power. And the color looks good on both of them. While he persistent nonsense that red is not the right color for a real man’s car still lingers in some social circles, these theorists better take note that both the GTO and the AMG were also available in Purple or Vanilla Cream. In both cases there would be no doubt about the “cool-factor”. And trust me, color is just one of the smallest commonalities in these two cannonballs that could tear off the blacktop if you would let them and if the tires would survive that challenge. No, the family ties are deeper and have nothing to do with their respective brands. Let’s just call them soul mates.… Continue Reading …

Review Ford Fiesta Ecoboost 1.0T Powershift

Ford-Fiesta-Ecoboost-1.0-Powershift-TitaniumThe sixth generation Ford Fiesta has been Europe’s best selling subcompact car from 2009 onwards, except for a second place in 2011. Over 3,5 million Fiesta’s have been sold in our continent in the past 10 years , more than any other B-segment car. The top-of-the-line Fiesta ST is universally considered the best hot hatch of the moment, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the line-up are just a bunch of boring city cars.

Well, city cars they are, but not at all boring. Even with an automatic transmission this is not your average “grandma’s car”. That’s because the new Powershift double-clutch automatic gearbox is coupled with the highly acclaimed 1-liter three-cylinder Ecoboost turbo engine. As the relatively new segment of small MPV’s has tempted elderly buyers to prefer the Ford B-Max because of its higher entry and seating position, this has created room for the Fiesta to appeal more to the younger generation. And it does, with its cool Aston Martin-like front-end, absolutely brilliant driving dynamics and the advanced technology and connectivity features.

The one I’ve driven was fully equipped with just about anything you can get on a Fiesta, which means the price was close to that of the aforementioned ST, or even a base Ford Mondeo. But that’s an unfair comparison, as this Fiesta is a great choice if you live in or near the city and want an economical yet fun car that’s easy to park, but you still want all the comfort and amenities that a large car offers.… Continue Reading …

Martini Racing Collection at the Louwman Museum


If you have been a regular viewer or attendee at any kind of auto racing in the 1970s, ’80s and early ‘90s, there’s no way you’re not familiar with the Martini Racing Cars. A combination of dark blue, light blue and red stripes on a silver or white background are the iconic livery of one of the first major sponsors in auto racing, and these colors have made their mark on some of the most exciting and thrilling decades in racing history. Martini has been connected to auto sports for over 45 years, and during that period Martini Racing teams have dominated every important racing event. The success story includes victories at Le Mans, Formula 1, World Rally Championships and DTM. For the youngsters among my readers: as much as you can see Red Bull at every major extreme sports event these days, Martini was at every auto racing event back in the “old days”. At any auto racing event the Martini colors would be omnipresent and impossible to miss.

Until May 4th 2014, a small but significant piece of the Martini Racing history is brought together and is on display at the Louwman Museum in Den Haag (The Hague, Netherlands). Usually, you would have to travel to at least 4 different museums and even then you wouldn’t see all of these cars, as some are part of private collections. The cars in this temporary collection are combined into four main categories: Rally Cars, Touring Cars, Formula 1 Cars and Endurance Racing Cars.… Continue Reading …

Toyota sued over misstated fuel economy of hybrids in Europe

Toyota-hybrid-fuel-economy-lawsuitThe Dutch Toyota importer is being sued by for allegedly overstating fuel economy claims on its hybrid models. A foundation called the Fuel Loss Foundation (Stichting Brandstofverlies) claims there are huge disparities between the fuel consumption claimed by the manufacturer and the actual mileage that customers experience from real-world driving, especially for its hybrid models like the Prius, Auris hybrid and Yaris hybrid.

The foundation has studied the fuel consumption of 158 cars of different brands, by using data from a fuel card company, online fuel economy websites and the Dutch Automobile club. From this study, they claim that the real world fuel economy of those cars was on average 31,7 percent higher than the manufacturer’s claims. Their press release cited the example of a Toyota Yaris Hybrid, which is supposed to run 28,3 kilometers on one liter of gasoline (66,5 USMPG, 80 Imp.MPG) according to Toyota, but owners only manage an average of 17,4 kilometers (40,9 USMPG, 49 Imp.MPG). They also called a few Toyota dealers, and some of the salespeople that were interviewed claimed the car would actually achieve fuel economy of 27 kilometers per liter (63,5 USMPG, 76 Imp.MPG), while others admitted that 18 kilometers (42,3 USMPG, 51 Imp.MPG) would be more realistic. The Fuel Loss Foundation concludes that automakers and dealers knowingly mislead consumers, and the lawsuit is supposed to get compensation from manufacturers for the loss of fuel costs. … Continue Reading …

ADAC awards returned after fraud, president steps down.

Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes are returning their “Yellow Angel” prizes to the ADAC and the president of the German automobile club is stepping down because of last month’s award scandal.

ADAC-president-Peter-Meyer-steps-downLast month, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung discovered that the results of the “Gelber Engel” award were manipulated by artificially increasing the number of voters, in order to add credibility to the award. For example: the number of votes for the winning Volkswagen Golf was increased tenfold.

Research by consulting firm Deloitte shows that there has been “deliberate manipulation ” and that the data processing was flawed. It became apparent that not only the number of votes was manipulated, but also the order of the results. The Golf would still have been the winner, but while the BMW 3-Series would officially have taken second place, but it wasn’t even in the top 5 of the results published by the ADAC. The Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class were each moved up one spot into second and third position respectively. Deloitte is now investigating whether a similar fraud has been committed with the award surveys from 2005 through 2013.… Continue Reading …

European sales 2013 EV segment

Three new entrants this year help the Electric Car segment become Europe’s second fastest growing segment of 2013, after small crossovers. A 74% increase over the 2012 tally means a total of 31.507 EV’s hit European roads last year, which is still just 0,25% of all vehicles sold last year, or one in every 400.

Nissan-Leaf-electric_car-sales-statistics-EuropeThe best selling EV in 2012, the Nissan Leaf compact car, remains unchallenged in 2013 as well, as sales more than double to just over 11.000 units, making the Leaf the first electric car to surpass the 10.000 annual sales threshold. The Renault Zoe subcompact hatchback was sold over 8.200 times in its first year of sales, helping the Zoe storm up the charts into second place.

Tesla-Model-S-EV-sales-EuropeThe Tesla Model S large sedan, which competes at a totally different price point than the other cars in this segment, but also offers much more range than those cars, is especially successful in Norway (almost 2.000 sales or half of all European registrations) and The Netherlands (almost 1.200 sales), where government subsidies and preferential treatment of electric cars help to put these vehicles on the map. … Continue Reading …

European sales 2013 Coupe segment

The coupe segment in Europe is suffering hard, down 31% in 2013 when compared to 2012. All models are down double digits with the exception of the Toyota GT86 and the Subaru BRZ, which were introduced in the second half of 2012.

Opel-Astra-GTC-Europe-sales-coupe-segmentAs a result, the ranking of the segment remains almost unchanged, with only the Japanese twins each moving up one place, and the Honda CR-Z tumbling down the ranking. The Opel/Vauxhall Astra GTC holds on to the lead, followed by the Renault Megane Coupe and the Volkswagen Scirocco and the Peugeot RCZ.

The Hyundai Veloster and Renault Laguna take the hardest hits, each seeing its sales approximately cut in half, while the aforementioned CR-Z hybrid coupe loses two thirds of its volume year-over-year.… Continue Reading …

European sales 2013 Convertible segment

VW-Golf-Cabrio-sales-European-convertible-segmentThe convertible segment in Europe remains virtually stable from 2012 to 2013, but the ranking is shuffled by the introduction of new models and large declines of existing models. Volkswagen is the convertible segment’s biggest brand, with no less than three cars in the top-1o, including the 2 best selling models. The VW Golf Cabriolet holds onto its lead, but barely. A 43% drop in its sales gives the VW Beetle the opportunity to come within 150 units of the top spot. Of course, the new generation Beetle (which losses the “New” in its previous name as New Beetle), is largely responsible for the decline in Golf Cabrio sales, as customers seem to prefer the newer model of the two. It would be interesting to see which of these two softtops finishes 2014 in the lead.

The Smart Fortwo Cabrio sells exactly 4 units less than in 2012 and holds on to its third place of the segment, now trailed by the Citroën DS3 Cabrio, introduced late 2012. The little Citroën outsells each of its Peugeot convertible hardtop siblings 207CC and 308CC, which are starting to show their age and are both down more than 30%.… Continue Reading …