With a bit of a delay we’ll start with the European segment analyses for the first three quarters of 2016, starting of course with the minicar segment. After growing 5% in the first half of the year, sales of Europe’s smallest cars have dropped in Q3, reducing the year-to-date growth rate to just 1%. The slowdown of the Volkswagen Up! and the Fiat Panda are largely responsible for this, and this has enabled the Fiat 500 to outsell its sibling in Q3 and threaten it for the segment’s full year top position which it has held since 2013. The third place of the Up! appears unthreatened, but the Renault Twingo has dropped from 4th place in the first half to 6th place after nine months after being outsold by the Toyota Aygo and Hyundai i10. The latter of these two was the #3 seller of the segment in Q3, even topping the little VW. The Lancia Ypsilon holds on to its 7th place, but all five of its closest challengers in places 8 to 12 were within 150 sales of each other in Q3 and all outsold the Ypsilon this quarter.
Archives for November 2016
Alfa Romeo Stelvio
As far as I’m concerned, they absolutely nailed this one. If the Giulia has a somewhat anonymous rear end, the Stelvio is original and great looking from all angles. Perhaps the rear overhang is a bit too much and the rear 3/4 a tad too rounded, but from the front 3/4 it looks very squat and the QV even aggressive. I love the full rear view and the shape of the C-pillar, not to mention the interior.
The expectations for the Stelvio may not have been as sky-high as those for its Giulia sister, but it’s fair to say the SUV was the most anticipated premiere of the show. The good news for the Alfistas is that the Stelvio delivers where it matters: as Bart mentioned, it looks good for the most part, promises a very dynamic drive, and comes topped with a 500hp+ halo model. What’s not to like?
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 October 2016 China car sales ranking, we welcome 9 new models, of which 5 crossover/SUVs, one of which from an all-new brand, the fourth domestic new brand this year (offsetting the demise of 2), 2 sedans and 2 MPVs.
Dongfeng already has an impressive line-up of MPVs, and adds another one to it, even though the brand itself would like you to think of it as a crossover. The SX6 is based on the Dongfeng Fengxing S500, with a similar wheelbase of 2.750mm. The exterior dimensions are similar too at 4.650/1.820/1.790mm and the Fengxing SX6 also has three rows seating 7. Prices run from 69.900 yuan (€9.500,- / US$ 10,200) to 102.900 yuan (€14.100,- / US$ 14,950). Two engines are available: a Mitsubishi 1,6-liter with 117hp and 150Nm with a five-speed manual or a CVT, and a PSA 2-liter with 138hp and 200Nm with only the five-speed manual. The Fengxing SX6 clearly cannibalizes sales of the Fengxing S500 but combined still add volume to the brand, as sales of the latter have dropped from an average of 6.500 (and 9.000 in September) to just 2.349 units in October, while the SX6 adds 8.157 sales in its introduction month. That immediately makes it the brand’s #3 best seller after the Fengguang 580 and the Fenxing Lingzhi.
The Audi A3 sedan is a good-looking car: surprisingly well-proportioned for a compact sedan, more interesting than the “seen it before” hatchback, and nicely compact compared to its overlong and boring bigger brother, the A4. One of the better aspects of its design is the rear, and especially the aggressively squinty tail lights, which look much better than the boring lamps on the A4, or the weirdly frowning-looking ones on the A6. But the A3 sedan is not the only car that sports such aggressive lamps at the rear, to the benefit of the overall design.
The Chinese car market shows no sign of slowing down, even though a slowdown of the growth curve keeps being predicted by critics. October 2016 is the fourth consecutive month of more than 20% year-over-year growth with sales up 21% to 2,3 million sales. That means volume has more than doubled on the same month just four years ago and this month is the second-best ever after tax-break fueled December 2015. This reduction of sales tax on vehicles with engines of 1,6 liters or less from 10% to 5% has boosted sales of qualified vehicles since its introduction in Q4 of 2015. In the first ten months of the year, those vehicles accounted for 72% of sales, up 4,1 percentage points from a year earlier. This tax break had been expected to be cut by the end of 2016, pulling forward the buying decision for buyers interested in such vehicles. However, it’s become likely the program will be extended into 2017, which may influence sales figures in the last two months of the year. Still, even a 15% drop in sales in November and December would keep 2016 in double digit growth compared to last year, and the year-to-date figure of almost 18,5 million sales (+15%) is already above the 2014 full-year figure with two months to spare.
The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Selling Rate again hit a new record in October at 26,18 million units. Sales of crossovers and SUVs shot up 43% to 896.000 units, while deliveries of MPVs surged 20% to 231.800 and sedan sales increased just 10% to 1,17 million. The share of local brands is up to a record 44,35%, crushing last February’s figure of 43,63%. That pulls the year-to-date ratio of domestic brands above 40,5% again, compared to just 37,66% over the full year 2015. [Read more…]
We’ve looked at the September 2016 European car brand sales ranking, now let’s zoom in on how sales of individual models compared in Europe. Keep in mind, just like the brand ranking, the models that are popular in the UK are taking advantage of the traditionally inflated September sales figures in that market. The UK top-10 in September looked like this:
The Ford Fiesta, Britain’s best selling model, sold almost 20.000 units in the UK only. It sold just over 14.000 units in all of Europe (including the UK) in August. Similarly, the Vauxhall Corsa sold more units in Great Britain in September than it did with its Opel sibling combined in all of Europe the month before and so did the Ford Focus and the Mini. [Read more…]
Car sales in Europe continue their slow but steady rise, as a 7% increase in September confirms the July dip was only a slight glitsh and no warning sign of a plateauing market as the US is facing. With 1.489.343 sales, this is the highest September volume for the European market on record and it brings the Year-to-Date figure up 7,5% to 11.529.096 sales. All major markets posted growth, with the Southern European markets at double digit growth again: Italy (+17,4%) and Spain (+13,9%), followed by Germany (+9,4%) and France (+2,5%). Even the UK showed another slight improvement at +1,6% despite the fears that the subsequent price increases after the devaluation of the British Pound and the uncertainty after the Brexit vote would hurt demand in that market. As usual in September (and March), the UK is easily the largest market in Europe as sales in this market are skewed towards these two months thanks to the twice-yearly license place change, this month to the “66” plates.
The UK accounted for almost a third (31,5%) of total sales in the 27 countries of the EU and EFTA in September, while the full-year share ends up at around 18,5 – 19%. That also influences the brands and models ranking, with those that are popular in the UK gaining an advantage over those that are relatively more dependent on mainland Europe. This most notably affects Ford, Opel/Vauxhall, Nissan, the British brands Mini and Jaguar–Land Rover and the German luxury brands to whom the UK is their biggest European market after Germany. Ford and Opel/Vauxhall both sell almost twice as many cars in September than they did in August, while for Mini that ratio is over 2,5 and both Jaguar and Land Rover sell more than 3 times as many units in September compared to August. Nissan moves from 16th place in August to 11th in September and adds more than a percentage point of market share.
Since the Fiat 124 Spyder came out pages upon pages have been written comparing it to its twin, the ND Mazda Miata (MX-5). The final consensus seems to be that the Italian company did just enough to give its version a unique visual character, which distinguishes it from the Japanese model. However, such a direct comparison misses another clear similarity…
US car sales were 1,370,416 in October, over 60,000 lower than in September, and the second lowest number since January. However, more worrying for the market is that the number was a full 5.9 percent lower than in October 2015, meaning that total sales for 2016 now slipped 0.2 percent behind those for 2015 at this time of the year. Part of the explanation is that there were two fewer selling days in October 2016 compared with October 2015, while Hurricane Matthew likely also hurt sales in the Southeast. If things continue this way, 2015 will remain a record year for the industry for the near future.