Archives for May 2016

China car sales analysis April 2016

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Lifan_Maiwei-SUVCar sales in China are up 8,3% in April after a 12% increase in March. With almost 1,7 million sales of locally produced models,  the market has almost doubled since 2010. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Selling Rate is 21 million in April, the first time ever the SAAR has topped 20 million units four months in a row. Year to date, the growth of the Chinese car market is 8,9% to 7,1 million units. After enjoying record shares of over 43% in January and February, local brands are down to 38,8% of sales, still slightly above the full year 2015 figure, but indicating the foreign brands are fighting back for their piece of the world’s largest car market. The impressive surge of SUVs is also slightly slowing, but still very impressive at +33,3% to 610.000 sales, while MPVs improve at half that speed with an increase of 16,7% to 182.000 sales and sedans are still down, this time losing 2,5% to 905.000 sales. The Chinese market is not only impressive in terms of volume, but also in terms of the number of models: 415 different locally produced models of passenger cars were sold in April, of which 7 all-new nameplates. When including imported models, pick-up trucks and minivans, the number will almost reach a dizzying 1.000 different nameplates.

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Haval_H6-SUVThe big event this month is the new best seller on top of the rankings. After another price cut of 10%, inspired by increasing competition from most notably the Baojun 560, the Haval H6 saw its sales surge 43% to 43.946 units, overtaking both the perennial best seller Wuling Hongguang MPV and the Volkswagen Lavida sedan, even when sales of the Gran Lavida hatchback are combined with those of the sedan. This means China’s best selling SUV is now also China’s best selling passenger car overall for the first time ever. Year-to-date, the Hongguang still holds that title, but the Great Wall SUV brand has picked up the gauntlet to challenge its dominance. The Baojun 560 in its turn is down into 9th place vs. #4 year-to-date, and is even outsold by its rival GAC Trumpchi GS4 for the first time since the 560’s launch last July.… Continue Reading …

New model introductions in China, April 2016

Automakers keep launching new models onto the Chinese market at lightning pace. After a whopping 12 new models in March, the number of newcomers stood at 7 in April. In the first four months of 2016 already 28 new models have entered the Chinese car market.

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Volkswagen_Golf_Sportsvan-MPVThe best selling newcomer in April was the Volkswagen Golf Sportsvan with 3.659 sales. In Europe, this is a competitor to the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer, which was launched in China a month earlier, but the starting price of the Sportsvan is 105.000 Yuan lower than that of the 2-Series at 131.900 Yuan vs. 236.900 Yuan (€ 17.900,- vs. € 32.200,-). With such a price differential, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see the VW selling more in its first month of sales than the BMW in its first two months. The Golf Sportsvan is sold in China with a 1.6-liter engine, a 1.2-liter turbo and two 1.4-liter turbocharged engines.

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Lifan_Maiwei-SUVPlagued brand Lifan has a desperately needed success with the launch of the Maiwei (“MyWay”), selling 2.342 units of the new 7-seater SUV in its first month, making it the best selling model for the brand by far, as none of Lifan’s other models sell over 1.000 units. The Maiwei therefore already comprises 44% of Lifan brand sales, a figure that is highly likely to grow further in coming months, a similar trend we’ve seen with so many small local manufacturers after launching an affordable SUV (it costs significantly less than the price differential between the 2-Series Active Tourer and the Golf Sportsvan in China). However, the Maiwei has been unable to stop total sales of the brand from plummeting: even with the successful launch, Lifan sales are down 63% on April 2015 (YTD: -74%), as the rest of its line-up loses almost 80%, and its other two crossovers have suffered the hardest. The Maiwei is powered by a naturally aspirated 1.5-liter four cylinder engine.… Continue Reading …

Should Volkswagen create a low-cost brand? [w/poll]

Bart and Kriss couldn’t agree on whether the US is ready for a true low-cost car brand, and now they’re locking horns again on whether Volkswagen would benefit from following the highly successful Dacia strategy that has been raking in the profits at Renault.


Volkswagen_Citi_Golf-South_Afica-value-modelI just don’t understand why they haven’t done this already. Like with crossovers, Volkswagen has waited too long to follow this trend and has squandered the opportunity to gain a huge volume boost. Not only from the newly-created, low-cost brand itself, but also from sharing the platforms and cost-saving technologies to some of the existing VW Group brands, most notably Skoda and VW itself in regions like South America and China, where it still sold decades-old models under the VW brand until recently. As our reader M. Hoffman commented earlier, last year 46% of worldwide sales of the Renault and Dacia brands combined were Dacia-based models, so they gained huge economies of scale without the need to launch an additional brand in every single market. In markets where Renault was an established brand, like Europe and Mediterranean Africa, Dacia filled the open slot below it, and in markets where Renault was still trying to gain a foothold, like Russia, Asia and South America, the models helped establish Renault as a top player, not necessarily with a budget-brand image.


My big worry is brand-overload over at VW Group. They already have some 12 brands in their portfolio (counting trucks and motorcycles), plus their mainstream offerings (VW, Seat, Škoda) are already rather close and the company seems unable to give them truly different characters. In a sense, the success of Dacia stems from Renault being OK with the cars being no more than acceptable by European standards, at least at first. Somehow, with German perfectionism I don’t see how they could do that – I’m afraid is that they would be unable to position the new brand low enough for it to truly remain a different offering. After all, Škoda started off as a budget offering, but quickly caught up with Seat in terms of quality and is now a mainstream brand that offers good value for money, rather than being a true value brand.… Continue Reading …

Hopes of Dacia Kwid in Europe vanished by crash test results?

Renault_Kwid-IndiaFor the past 12 years, Renault has enjoyed an incredible worldwide success with its line-up of low-cost models, which are marketed under the Dacia brand in Europe and North Africa, and under the Renault brand in most other markets like Russia, South America, Arabia and India. In fact, these low-cost models currently comprise as much as 46% of worldwide sales for the combined Renault and Dacia brands. In India, the Duster had been the most successful Renault model so far, but the French carmaker has really shaken up the Indian car market when it launched the Kwid small car there last year. The Kwid is slightly larger than the European Twingo, and has a higher ride height, giving it a sort of mini-crossover look. Initially only produced in India and launched there, the Kwid has become an instant hit, with 70.000 orders in the first two months of sales, while Renault’s previous sales record in India stood at less than 45.000 sales in 2014. Production capacity was quickly upgraded to 10.000 units a month and so far Renault has sold every Kwid it could build in India, helping the French brand to a record 4th place in April, ahead of local manufacturer Tata. The model itself has stormed up the Indian sales charts as well, rising quickly to the segment 2nd place, ahead of the Hyundai Eon and unsuccessful Tata Nano, and closing in quickly on the perennial overall sales leader in India: the Maruti (Suzuki) Alto, which suffered a drop of 23% in dealer orders in April, possibly as dealers expect the Alto to suffer from competition from the Kwid in coming months.


Sales trends in the A-segment in India. Credit:

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Volvo’s new small models previewed [w/ poll]

Volvo Concept 40.2

Today Volvo unveiled two new concept cars that are, as US vice-president Joe Biden would put it, a “big f’ing deal” for the carmaker. Called the Concept 40.1 and Concept 40.2, the cars preview not only a new range of Volvo small cars, including its first compact crossover, but also a new platform that’s the result of collaboration with Chinese owner Geely.

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US sales Q1 2016 Alternative Power segment

US Alternative Power

Sales in the Alternative Power segment fell by 11% Q1 2016 to 54,688 vehicles, a steep decline but actually not as bad as some other sectors (mainly premium mainstream ones). The reason for the decline is clear: cheap gas keeps luring people away from EVs, hybrids and more fuel-efficient cars in general into larger crossovers, SUVs and pick-up trucks. With no large increase in the gas price on the horizon it is hard to see how the fortunes for the sector could turn around anytime soon, though with new cars such as Tesla Model X, as well as Chevy Bolt and Volt models hitting the market at least one can expect some positive stories.

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US sales: April 2016, models

Honda Civic

After discussing the US auto brand sales ranking for April, let’s zoom in on the models. The big news is the rise and rise of the bold new Honda Civic, which has reached fourth place in the rankings, making it the highest-selling non-pickup in the US! In fact, it is entirely conceivable it could outsell the Ram Pickup sometime in 2016, a feat last accomplished by the Toyota Camry in July 2015. Also doing great are Honda Accord (up two places to 7th), Toyota RAV4 (up four places to 8th) and Nissan Altima (up three places to 10th). Not doing so great are Ford Escape (sales down 7.2%, drops out of top 10), Ford Fusion (sales down 16.9%) and Chevrolet Equinox (sales down 28.6%).

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European sales 2016 Q1 Exotic and Sports Car segments

Exotic_car-segment-European-sales-2015-Bentley_Continental_GT-Ferrari_488-Aston_Martin_DB9Sales of exotic cars in Europe outgrow the overall market in Q1 of 2016 with an increase of 11% to 1.459 units. About one third of those are for the Bentley Continental GT, which still comfortably leads the segment despite the arrival of the Ferrari 488 GTB in showrooms. Last year’s #3, the Lamborghini Huracan, suffers from the new competitor and drops to fifth place, even though deliveries of the Spyder started this quarter. We’ll have to wait and see how sales develop in the next quarter, when the drop-top version reaches its full potential, before jumping to conclusions about the Gallardo replacement. The third podium position is now held by the Aston Martin DB9, up 38% despite being in the final stages of its life cycle and its replacement DB11 ready to take over.

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Look-a-like: Maserati Levante and…

Maserati Levante 2

Ever since the Maserati Levante made its debut I’ve felt that it was a good idea, badly executed. In fact, the whole design seems like a lot of nice design ideas (the grille, the slit-like headlights, the fastback profile, the rear haunches) that have been spread a bit thin over an awkward shape, taking away much of what made the Kubang concept that proceeded it great.

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US sales: April 2016, brands


Jeep lineupUS car sales were up 3.5% to 1,506,126 in April, a reasonable pace of growth that industry analysts thought was a much better performance than the 3.1% recorded in March. Seasonally-adjusted, the sales figures came in at 17.42 million, up from 16.56 million in March. While part of the reason for the sales growth seems to be ever-rising discounts on new cars, the stable economy and low gas prices are also big contributors.

Note: 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.
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