Late last week BWM finally pulled the wraps off the long-awaited 5-series replacement, causing a lot of head-scratching among its fans and the general public. The unaffiliated were left wondering why BMW had re-revealed the 7-series, especially when looking at the front lights and the detailing on the side of the car, while BMW aficionados were left staring at the shape of the C-pillar and wondering “is this just a very elaborate facelift?”. [Read more…]
Archives for October 2016
Sales of Mid-sized cars in the United States fell by 16 percent in the third quarter of 2016, as the freefall of sales in the segment accelerates. Midsized cars used to be the segment where the money was made, even when SUVs and crossovers started to gain a foothold in the US car market during the 1990s and early 2000s. But that boom has started to pick up speed this year, fueled by hot new models and affordable gas. In contrast there haven’t been many major model updates in the midsized segment lately. As a result, compact crossover are expected to become the biggest segment this year, with even the full-sized pickup truck and the compact car segments closing in on midsized cars in recent months and even threatening to push the segment to fourth place. Until the segment gets an injection of fresh product, for example from the next generation Toyota Camry next year, there will be little that can turn this fate around. Out of the 14 midsized models, only 3 improved their sales in Q3, with 9 models showing double digit losses.
Sales in the compact segment slightly improve to a loss of 3% in the third quarter of 2016, as the year-to-date loss stays at -6%. The top-3 of the segment remains fairly stable, but most of the “challengers” is having a hard time keeping up, as consumers still favor crossovers over the traditional sedans. Still, after only 4 out of the segment 17 models improved year-over-year in the first half, that figure improved to 7 models in Q3. [Read more…]
Sales of subcompact cars rebounded slightly in Q3 of 2016 with an increase of 2%, to cut the year-to-date loss in half to 3%. That’s even despite the fact that a number of models in this segment is due for a redesign within the next 12 months, most notably the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio. Surprisingly, the latter two South-Korean models are actually the among the three fastest growing models of the segment in Q3, together with the Honda Fit.
The minicar segment in the United States is hurt badly by the low gasoline prices, with sales down 21.6% in the first three quarters of 2016, with not a single model improving on last year. Now that we have more detailed data for the Mini brand, we can better compare the models in this segment, as for example the Mini Clubman station wagon really can’t be called a minicar anymore, let alone that it would be cross-shopped with the Chevrolet Spark. The Mini data in this table consist of the Hardtop 2-door and 4-door and the Convertible. Sales of those three models combined showed a drop of 34% compared to the first three quarters of 2015, which means that there’s a new segment leader: the Chevrolet Spark.
After discussing the US auto brand sales ranking for September, let’s zoom in on the models. [Read more…]
The Chinese car market is one of the most diverse in the world, with over 400 locally produced passenger car models from more than 70 domestic and foreign brands. If we include imported vehicles, minivans, pickups and commercial vehicles, there are more than 1.000 different models available. In the September 2016 China car sales ranking, we welcome 9 new models, of which 3 SUVs, one of which from an all-new brand, the third domestic new brand this year (offsetting the demise of 2), 1 EV version of an existing SUV, 1 hatchback and 4 sedans. And for a change, the sedans are in my opinion the most significant launches of the bunch.
Shanghai-GM has resurrected an old name with the launch of the Chinese Chevrolet Cavalier. This car has nothing to do with the one that was sold in North America before being replaced by the Cobalt in 2005. Instead, the new Cavalier is basically a reskinned previous generation Chevrolet Cruze, a car that’s also still on sale in China next to the new generation.
That means the Cavalier is powered by the same powertrain as the Cruze Classic: a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 109hp, mated to a five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic. Its dimensions are 4.544/1.779/1.467 mm with a wheelbase of 2.600 mm. [Read more…]
Car sales in China keep skyrocketing, with a 29,5% growth rate in September, the highest rate of growth since 2013. With 2,22 million sales of domestically produced passenger cars, this reflects an additional half a million vehicles compared to September of 2015 and the second-best ever month in absolute numbers, after December 2015. One of the reasons for this accelerated growth rate is the government tax cut on vehicles with engines of 1.6 liters and lower, which is expected to be axed at the end of this year. So expect Q4 sales to be artificially boosted before a hard landing in the first quarter of 2017. To prevent this scenario, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers CAAM is lobbying the Chinese government to extend the tax cut into 2017, but has been unsuccessful so far. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Selling Rate hit a new record in September at 25,16 million units. The year-to-date figure for the first nine months of 2016 stands at 16,2 million, just shy of the full-year figure of 2013. Sales of crossovers and SUVs shot up 52% to 879.000 units, while deliveries of MPVs surged 37% to 221.500 and sedan sales increased 17% to 1,12 million. The share of local brands is back up to 41,9%, the third highest ever, behind last January and February. That pulls the year-to-date ratio of domestic brands above 40% again.
With production of the Chrysler 200 midsized sedan set to end next December, the illustrious brand will be down to just two models: the now almost elderly 300 large sedan, which shares its platform with the Dodge Charger and Challenger, and the brand new minivan Pacifica. That means the two namesake brands of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are also its weakest volume brands in the North American market. And considering Chrysler cars are sold almost exclusively in the US and Canada, the brand doesn’t seem all that relevant anymore. That’s unfortunate for a brand which used to be one of America’s most innovative brands with a number of important technological breakthroughs to its name and which of course is credited with the creation of the minivan. However, for the past decades Chrysler has let its image crumble by selling mediocre cars and ongoing financial uncertainty under multiple owners as it has gone through a number of (near-)bankruptcies.
The third-generation Kia Sportage was a very handsome beast. With its squat proportions, aggressive “tiger nose” grille and shallow glass house, it would not have looked out-of-place if it had been badged an Audi, BMW or even Porsche. This made the reveal of its successor all the more of a disappointment – the previously sharp lines had been smoothed out, the standout proportions brought more into the mainstream, but most importantly the aggressive nose had been replaced with something much weaker. I think it’s clear that Kia’s designers were trying to make the Sportage look a bit like the Porsche Cayenne, but I fear they accidentally made it look like quite another car…