Archives for August 2015

Why would Honda bring the S660 roadster to Europe?

Honda_S660-frontEarlier this year, Honda launched the S660 roadster in its home market Japan. The 8.600 units of the small two-seater with a 660cc engine planned for this year were quickly sold out as Japanese buyers had obviously an appetite for the open-air kei car. Exports to Europe haven’t been ruled out, although there are rumors it will be fit with a 1.0-liter engine when it does make its way to the continent. Or to be exact: rumors of exports to Europe surfaced as a result of the possible bigger engine, as that engine wouldn’t make sense for the local Japanese market where it would no longer qualify as a tax-subsidized kei car.

The US market would also make sense as an export market considering the success of the Mazda MX-5 Miata and other roadster models, but American Honda has ruled out the possibility of importing the tiny roadster. John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda, is quoted to say the S660 would be too small for the American market. “It might be better for India or China or somewhere else”, Mendel said. Besides being prejudiced and perhaps even offensive, this last comment is obvious bullshit, showing he has no idea of the automotive landscape outside of the US, because India and China are among the last places where a bite-sized roadster would make sense.… Continue Reading …

US sales 2015 first half Premium Midsize SUV segment

The Premium Midsize SUV segment grew by 26%, less than the smaller, Compact segment but faster than the Premium Large SUV one. The main driver of this growth has been the introduction of new models such as the Lexus NX, Lincoln MKC and BMW X4, though most existing models also experienced a healthy growth rate. With the new Mercedes-Benz GLK about to go on sale, and the new Audi Q5 and Cadillac SRX just around the corner, all signs point to growth in this segment continuing for a while yet.

Continue Reading …

US sales 2015 first half Premium Compact SUV segment

US Premium SUV Compact

The Premium Compact SUV segment grew by 40% year-on-year, the best performance from among all Premium SUV segments that, overall, grew by an impressive 15%. The main driver of growth in the Compact segment has been the introduction of two models to the US market: the Mercedes-Benz GLA and Audi Q3. And with the new X1 going on sale in the second half of the year I would not bet against this healthy growth continuing for a while yet.

Continue Reading …

US sales 2015 first half Large SUV segment

US SUV Large

The Large SUV segment shrank by 3% year-on-year, by far the worst performance of all non-premium SUV segments. It is important to keep in mind, however, that this trend is partly explained by the way this segment is defined – as really large SUVs with body-on-frame construction. And it is the fact that customers are gradually turning away from these rather uncouth underpinnings towards altogether more comfortable monocoque-based cars that will explain the decline of this segment, although many of the Midsize SUVs are, in fact, as big on the outside (and often bigger inside) than those in the Large SUV segment.… Continue Reading …

Look-a-like: new Kia Sportage and…

Kia Sportage

Kia finally released official pictures of the long-awaited and frequently-spy-photographed Kia Sportage. And a handsome beast it is too, with the same muscular stance and profile view as the old model, and an arguably even better-resolved rear. The front, however, leaves a lot to be desired, though it’s easy to imagine what Kia’s designers were going for:

Continue Reading …

US sales 2015 first half Mid-sized SUV segment

SUV mid-sizedThe Mid-sized SUV segment grew by 14% year-on-year, slightly faster than the average growth rate of 12% for all non-premium SUVs and a lot faster than the market as a whole (4%). Interestingly, this growth can’t really be attributed to any particularly new model (sales of most newest models actually did not grow that quickly), it is more a factor of practically all models gaining across the board.

Ford Explorer

2016 Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer is the segment leader by a wide margin, selling more than 50% more cars than the second most popular model. The really surprising thing is that its sales grew by 17% even though the new, facelifted model was about to go on sale in the summer 2015 – possibly dealers were offering big discounts to make space for the new model. Also, one has to keep in mind that some of those sales go to the Police, for which the Explorer is the main vehicle in the US, but that is only around 12k units per half-a-year period.

Continue Reading …

Look-a-like: Renault Talisman and…

Renault Talisman

Continue Reading …

US sales 2015 first half Compact SUV segment

SUV compact 2
The Compact SUV segment grew by 13% compared to the first half of 2014, a very strong performance given the size of the segment – annual sales are more than 2.5 million, and it accounts for more than half of all SUV sales. In fact, in H1 2015 it surpassed the Mid-sized segment to become the largest single segment in the US by sales, and one with the largest number of models offered. Given how US customers substitute SUVs for family wagons it should not come as a huge surprise that the a Compact SUV has become the default go-to family car.

Honda CR-V

Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V remains the market leader, with sales rising by 5% following a facelift late in 2014. The ever-popular Honda distanced itself from the second-placed Ford Escape which came within 2,000 units of dethroning the Honda this time last year, but whose sales fell by 4% this time around. It may yet get another shot at the top spot when the extensive facelift arrives later this year, due to give the Escape a much tougher look inspired by its larger brother, the Edge, although whether that will turn out to be a winning move in this family-friendly segment remains to be seen. Close on the Escape’s heels in #3 is the Chevrolet Equinox, enjoying a healthy 21% growth in sales, a pretty remarkable performance given that at 5 years it’s one of the oldest models in this segment. It is closely followed by the Toyota RAV4 in fourth.

Continue Reading …

US sales 2015 first half Subcompact SUV segment

SUV subcompactThe Subcompact SUV was the fastest-growing of all segments in the US, exactly doubling its sales compared to the first half of 2014. And if that was not enough to convince you that it was the place to be right now – half of the cars were new to the segment, making this also the “freshest” from among all segments.

Buick Encore

Buick Encore

The new segment leader is the Buick Encore, whose sales rose 29% year-on-year. The little SUV, developed in Europe as the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka, clearly found good traction in the market with its combination of good looks, small dimensions and reasonable spaciousness. Its success took parent GM by surprise (it is the first time that a Buick has led a segment in sales in… ever?), and it belatedly decided to start selling its sister car, the Chevrolet Trax, to the US market. The effect? Immediate jump to second spot with almost 25,000 sales.

Continue Reading …

US sales 2015 first half Premium Limousine segment

US premium limousine 2

The Premium Limousine segment in the US shrank by 8% compared to the first half of 2014, not a great performance but hardly a surprising one given that half of the cars in this segment are on schedule to be replaced in the next year.

Mercedes-Benz S-class Coupe

Mercedes-Benz S-class Coupe

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class remains the clear market leader, selling more than twice as many units as its nearest competitor. The model actually experienced a decline of 6% compared to previous year, a surprising result given that the model only came to market at the end of 2013. What makes this performance all the more surprising is that the second-placed BMW 7-series experienced growth of 11% in its final year on the market. Bizarre. Still, one can expect the new S-Class coupe to add handsomely to these numbers, not to mention the delicious-looking new S-Class cabriolet.

Continue Reading …