Sales in the premium compact segment rose by 2% compared to 2014, a considerably lower growth rate than the 30% rate it experienced in 2015. However, this performance was better than seems at first. First, the growth rate last year was driven by introduction of the Audi A3 sedan and the new BMW 2-series, while so far this year there have not been any developments in the four-strong segment. As such, the growth rate pretty much equalled the 3% rate for the industry as a whole, a decent performance for a “stable” segment. Second, the premium compact was the only premium segment to grow in Q1 2016, with the other three segments shrinking between 10% and 20%. It would be interesting to see how consumers would have taken to the V40, had Volvo decided to introduce it in the US, though that probably won’t happen until the next generation debuts, possibly reverting back to its original sedan form.
Archives for April 2016
Sales in the minivan segment grew by 30%, an unexpected performance for a segment that struggled throughout 2015, when sales fell by 8%. Interestingly, the upswing in sales is not thanks to the eagerly-anticipated new Chrysler Pacifica, which has not gone on sale yet, but rather due to the sell-off of its ancient predecessors: the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan. It will be interesting to see whether these models will continue gaining sales once the Pacifica hits the market.
Sales in the large segment rose by 14% compared to Q1 2015, a considerably better performance than over the course of 2015, when sales fell by 12% overall. This makes the segment one of only two mainstream segments that grew over the course of the last year, with sales growth behind only the minivan segment. What’s more, the growth is not based on the success of one or two new models, but rather sales growth among most models. 2016 promises some new metal in the form of the new Kia Cadenza and, eventually, a new Buick LaCrosse, though there is no indication that the quickly-aging FCA twins, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, will be replaced anytime soon. [Read more…]
Car sales in China are back into double digit growth in March after a dip in February due to the Lunar new year celebrations. The total market grows 12% to just under 2 million sales, bringing the year-to-date total to almost 5,5 million sales, an increase of 8,8%. The share of local brands comes down from its record 44% in February to 40,5% in March, slightly above the 40,1% of the same month last year. It shouldn’t surprise anybody that SUVs and crossovers are still the fastest growing segment in China by far, at +46% to almost 690.000 sales. MPVs gain 12% to 207.000 sales, while sedans continue to slump at -3% to 1,07 million sales. No wonder 7 out of 12 new models this year are crossovers.
The most important happening for the European brands is the launch of Renault as a local manufacturer. Although the French brand has taken its time, it shows that it understands the Chinese car market perfectly by starting off with a crossover, the Kadjar. A second SUV will follow soon to replace the imported Koleos. The Kadjar sells over 2.700 units in its first month, which is pretty impressive and not far behind the Peugeot 3008 (down 43% to just under 3.000 sales). Peugeot and Citroën continue to struggle in China as they lack crossovers and their sedan line-up is ageing. Peugeot loses 20% for the third consecutive month as all of its models lose volume and the 308S hatchback struggles to make a mark. Citroën does even worse at -24% as only the C3-XR crossover improves while the new C4 sedan can’t make up for losses of the brand’s other sedans. No bright spots for PSA? Well, DS improves 19% to a still very shy 1.355 sales. [Read more…]
A flood of new models has washed ashore in China last month, with no less than 12 all-new models appearing in the ranking for the first time. 7 SUVs, of which 5 from local brands, 2 MPVs and 3 sedans/hatchbacks. So I’ve decided to split this into a separate post from the regular China car sales analysis March 2016.
The hottest new crossover is the Kia KX5, which is the new generation Sportage in other countries, but Kia renamed it to bring it more in line with the naming strategy of the smaller KX3 crossover. Another reason to change the name is because Kia will likely continue to sell the previous version called Sportage R alongside the new KX5. The version before that is also still sold as the Sportage, but that’s likely to be discontinued soon. At 6.001 sales in its first month, the KX5 is already close to the figure of the Sportage R at 6.225 units, down from 7.382 in the same month last year. Combined sales of the three generations is up from 9.939 in March 2015 to 13.627 last month, supporting Kia’s decision to keep them alive for now.
The most notable newcomer is the Renault Kadjar, marking the start of local production for the French auto maker. Renault is a latecomer to the Chinese party but is determined to succeed, and they’re following the right strategy: launching crossovers. The Kadjar is the first but it will be followed by a slightly larger SUV that will replace the Koleos. The all-new factory with Joint Venture partner Dongfeng has a first-year capacity of 150.000 units, but can easily be expanded to double that figure. Renault already has about 200 showrooms in China from which it sold the Koleos, Fluence and Latitude, imported from South-Korea, and since a few months the Captur, imported from France. The number of dealers will expand in the coming months, but sales of 2.753 units in its first month is not at all bad. For example, the Jeep Cherokee sold 2.171 locally produced units in its first month of local production and is now at over 9.000 monthly sales. I don’t expect the Kadjar to hit such a figure anytime soon, but it has hit the ground running. [Read more…]
Sales in the mid-sized segment fell by 3% compared to Q1 2015, pushing this once-largest segment further behind compact SUV cars as families’ wheels of choice. That said, it did better than the smaller mainstream segments, again showing how cheap gas is pushing consumers to buy larger cars. The good times are likely to continue rolling for the segment, too, as sales of the new-for-2016 Chevy Malibu and Kia Optima come fully on-stream, while brings the facelifted Ford Fusion to market. [Read more…]
Ever since its design renaissance in the 1990s we’ve gotten used to other carmakers copying Audi’s design ideas, be it the TT’s roofline, the shield grille or LED running lights. Of course, recently it seems that the list of carmakers copying Audi has grown through the addition of… Audi, as the company seems intent to take the “one sausage, different lengths” to new heights, challenged only by Mercedes-Benz. But recently I noticed that the new Audi A4 Allroad is itself very similar to a model from another carmaker…
Sales in the compact segment fell by 6% compared to Q1 2015, the second-worst performance from among all mainstream segments, better only than the minicar segment. While one could be inclined to continue the narrative that it’s the low gas prices that are driving consumers to the segment above, my feeling is that few consumers are abandoning compact cars from mid-sized ones for economy reasons. Rather, the compact segment is full of aging cars that are nearing their retirement, with only the hot (sales-wise) new Honda Civic, refreshed Nissan Sentra and niche Scion iM providing any new blood. But, unlike for the subcompact segment there is hope on the horizon in the form of a refreshed Toyota Corolla, as well as a new Chevy Cruze, Hyundai Elantra and Subaru Impreza.
In our series of car cultures around the world/international street scenes we’ve taken a virtual tour to Morocco, Africa, Monaco, Europe, Nagoya, Japan, Bali, Indonesia and Singapore, now we’ll cross the Pacific and the US West Coast to land in Texas. And the automotive landscape in Texas is exactly as you’d imagined: lots of huge SUVs and pick-up trucks, one bigger than the other but all big enough to dwarf a Range Rover. Gasoline is cheap, roads are wide and straight and towing a big trailer, boat or caravan happens in a few occasions, but mostly they’re just big “because we can”.
As a result of this preference for bulky trucks and SUVs, the domestic US brands are more popular in Texas than in other parts of the United States, most notably the import-dominated East Coast (especially New York City) and West Coast (especially California). What did strike me in regards to import brands was the relative large number of midsized body-on-frame trucks like the Nissan Xterra and Toyota 4Runner, I’d almost say I saw one of each in just about every street of Austin. The Toyota FJ Cruiser must have also been popular in Texas, but not as extremely as in Dubai, UAE as you’ll see in the next report of this series. Other import models with an over-representation in Texas are the Nissan Pathfinder and the Infiniti QX80, and of course the Toyota Tundra full-sized pick-up truck. Sedans like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, among the best sellers in the nation, are much less omnipresent than in the rest of the country, but still no rarities. [Read more…]
The subcompact segment shrank by 4% compared to Q1 2015, not a great performance but considerably better than the minicar segment, which shrank by 28%, and even slightly better than the compact segment, which shrank by 6%. What the subcompact segment is still lacking in popular new metal: the cars that are popular are getting long in the tooth (Kia Soul, Hyundai Accent, Chevy Sonic), while the new cars are not selling in large volumes (Scion iA and Honda Fit, plagued by supply shortages). What’s more, there are no new cars on the immediate horizon, so it seems that the segment will have to wait until 2017 at the earliest to truly rebound when the new Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio should come to market. [Read more…]