Chevy showed off its new Cruze hatchback today, and it’s a pretty good-looking car, with styling that manages to strike a good balance between an aggressive front and a family-friendly shape, and has the potential to do pretty well for the brand. However, there is no denying that its overall stance and some of the detailing look a lot like one if its closest competitors in the marketplace… [Read more…]
Archives for January 2016
US car sales in December 2015 were up by by 8.9% compared to December 2014 – a higher growth rate than in November (1.2%), but slightly slower than in the months prior (September and October both saw growth of over 10%). Ultimately, though, the growth rate in December was faster than for the year overall (5.7%), showing that not only the market was growing quickly, but that the growth rate was in fact accelerating over time.
Please note: for those of you interested in US auto sales statistics, Bart & Kriss have been working very hard these last couple of months to add US brand- and model specific pages to the already existing European and Chinese car sales data pages. Use the drop-down menu on the top right-hand corner of this site to browse for car sales data of every brand and model sold in the US since 2003. [Read more…]
Yesterday Mercedes-Benz finally released pictures of its new E-class, and it looks exactly like we expected it would look: a blown-up C-class or, if you’re being generous, a shrunken S-class. In fact, this may be the closest that Mercedes has brought its three sedans since the W202, W124 and W140 of the mid-1990s. [Read more…]
A new year is always a nice opportunity to reflect on the past year and in our case, that means looking at which cars have sold disappointingly in 2015 and which do we expect to disappoint in 2016. We’ll also look at which cars or brands have surprised from a sales volume point of view in a separate article. We’ve already covered the surprises and disappointments in Europe and China, now let’s take a look at the US car market.
Which cars had disappointing sales in 2015:
The launch of the Italian brand in the US has been a relative success. For the past four years, Fiat has sold between 42.000 and 47.000 cars in the US, while its initial goal was 50.000 sales. However, the expansion of the line-up has not led to an increase of volume for the brand. First was the launch of the Fiat 500L as a five-door, five seater supplement to the regular Fiat 500 minicar in 2013, but instead of creating additional volume, the 500L ended up cannibalizing 500 sales as total brand sales have remained stable.
Then Fiat promised that the all-new 500X would be the breakthrough vehicle for the brand, as small crossovers are gaining popularity in the US as well and the success of the Jeep Renegade sister vehicle might reflect positively on the Fiat 500X. But the same thing happened again: Despite the addition of the 500X, total brand sales have remained stable or even lower. Fiat 500L sales have shrunk to less than 400 units a month, with a low of just 228 sales in November and sales of the 500 minicar dipped below 1.000 units for the first time since its launch. And that’s despite record incentives of as much as $ 3,500 per vehicle.
Of course, low fuel prices have not helped sales of small and fuel efficient vehicles, but while the 500 impresses in Europe with surprisingly stable sales during its life cycle, its image in the US isn’t strong enough to weather the storm. The addition of the Mazda Miata based Fiat 124 Spider this year won’t add much volume either, but an all-wheel-drive option for the 500X might help in the cold-weather states, but in 2015 Fiat’s performance has been an absolute disappointment. [Read more…]
A new year is always a nice opportunity to reflect on the past year and in our case, that means looking at which cars have sold surprisingly well in 2015 and which do we expect to surprise in 2016. We’ll also look at which cars or brands have disappointed from a sales volume point of view in a separate article. We’ve already covered the surprises and disappointments in Europe and in China, now let’s take a look at the US car market
Which cars sold surprisingly well in 2015:
For decades, the US commercial van market has been dominated by three old-fashioned and inefficient models: the Ford E-Series, the Chevrolet Express (and its clone GMC Savana) and Dodge Ram Van. In 2001 the Sprinter was added as a kind-of replacement to the Ram Van, which stood out because of its unibody layout. Although the Sprinter, first as Freightliner, later also as Dodge, then RAM and now as Mercedes-Benz, has enjoyed continued growth, it took Ford until the second half of 2014 to see the benefits and replace its ageing E-Series with the Transit, also based on a European design. And with the Sprinter now under the Mercedes-Benz brand since the demerger of DaimlerChrysler, FCA launched the RAM ProMaster in 2014 as well, which is a rebadged Fiat Ducato.
And the result has been a sales success for the “Euro-vans”, helped undoubtedly by a recovering economy, as businesses are starting to replace their aging vans after postponing that investment during the crisis years. But also because of their better fuel economy, more cabin space, better ride and greater choice of size configurations.
In the first 11 months of 2015, these three models accounted for 53% of total large commercial van sales in the US, up from 18,5% in the same period of 2014. To put it in numbers: the Ford Transit, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and RAM ProMaster sold a combined 155.000 units, a tripling of their volume of 47.878 units a year earlier and they helped boost the segment as a whole increase 13,3% to 292.271 sales. That means the “traditional” body-on-frame vans lost 34,6% of their volume, or if we don’t include the Ford E-Series which is being replaced by the Transit, the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana were down 23,7% and the Nissan NV was up 12,7% but with the smallest volume of all competitors.
Fiat has just launched its all-new Tipo sedan, built in Turkey and called the Ægea in that market. It replaces the Linea in the South-European markets where compact sedans are still popular. A five-door and station wagon are due later to appeal to the more hatchback-oriented markets. The Tipo will be positioned as an entry-compact “rational / functional” model under Fiat’s dual strategy of functional / rational vs. emotional / aspirational models. That means it will have the size of a compact model but priced between subcompact and compact, like the Seat Toledo and Skoda Rapid. Its styling and features will be no-frills and it will be powered by a “old fashioned” naturally aspirated gasoline engines or turbocharged diesel engines.
For the last few decades, very attempt by Fiat at challenging the Volkswagen Golf and other compact segment leaders have failed miserably, with the Bravo/Brava, Stilo and then again the Bravo all remaining niche players, especially outside of their home market Italy. From that perspective I can understand why Fiat would try an alternative strategy by offering a no-nonsense car for a bargain price, undoubtedly looking at the success of Dacia, but also of the Citroën C4 Cactus, another no-frills compact model that has struck a chord with European buyers. [Read more…]
A new year is always a nice opportunity to reflect on the past year and in our case, that means looking at which cars have sold disappointingly in 2015 and which do we expect to disappoint in 2016. We’ll also look at which cars or brands have surprised from a sales volume point of view in a separate article. We’ve already covered the surprises and disappointments in Europe, now let’s take a look at the Chinese car market.
Which cars had disappointing sales in 2015:
The Chinese-Israeli brand just doesn’t seam to gain any traction. Sure, sales have doubled in 2015, but that’s thanks to the addition of a second model, the Qoros 3 City SUV, and the increase comes from a low base of just 6.700 units in 2014. But that means the brand is still at less than 10% of its capacity and its initial goal of 150.000 annual sales.
As I’ve written before, Qoros has positioned itself in a difficult niche, trying to lure image-conscious Chinese buyers away from import brands by focusing its marketing on its European designers and engineers, but as a new brand it simply doesn’t have the status nor the heritage to compete with established import brands. Because of this “premium” strategy, Qoros also doesn’t appeal to budget-conscious buyers of domestic brands, for whom Qoros doesn’t offer enough value for money.
In 2016 the brand will launch a third model, the Qoros 5 SUV, but it really needs to get its marketing straight and set the price of the new model sharp. First build brand awareness, then a loyal customer base by selling high-quality products for a non-premium price and when its brand image rises as a result of customer experiences, so may their prices, but that will take years. There’s no shortcut.
Enranger, the brand launched in July by Weichai Auto, quickly expanded to two models in its first year and in its first 5 months of sales Enranger has already sold more vehicles than Qoros in the 11 months of its second year.
A new year is always a nice opportunity to reflect on the past year and in our case, that means looking at which cars have sold surprisingly well in 2015 and which do we expect to surprise in 2016. We’ll also look at which cars or brands have disappointed from a sales volume point of view in a separate article. We’ve already covered the surprises and disappointments in Europe, now let’s take a look at the Chinese car market