Shock and horror at the top of the European car sales ranking: in March 2017 the Volkswagen Golf is not the best selling car in Europe, for the first time since at least 2011 (our monthly data only goes back to 2012) but likely since March 2010. The Ford Fiesta leads the ranking despite being due for replacement by the next generation, which has already been revealed. This is the result of two factors: firstly the Fiesta is boosted by its strength in the UK market, where it’s traditionally been the best seller, and which is traditionally the largest market in Europe in March, and secondly, the Golf is struggling after its recent facelift with sales down 18%, due to increased choice of in-house crossover alternatives with the new generation Tiguan and Seat Ateca. Still, this won’t be the beginning of the end of Golf domination, expect the model to continue to lead the charts for the rest of the year as it usually does. The Volkswagen Polo is third again, which means it outsells the Renault Clio for the first time since last October. For the second month in a row the Nissan Qashqai is the best selling crossover in Europe, also helped by its popularity in the UK where it’s produced. [Read more…]
Archives for April 2017
March 2017 was a record month for European car sales, with 1,92 million units it was only 100.000 sales behind China, the world’s largest single car market. Helped by strong UK volume, March is traditionally the biggest selling month of the year, with about 11,5% of full year sales, so records are usually set this month. If the market as a whole sets a new volume record, a number of individual brands are naturally bound to do the same. And indeed, no less than 26 brands break their monthly volume record, which is half of all the brands currently on sale. I guess that may be a record by itself, although I didn’t check it. Especially luxury and exotic brands had a blockbuster month, with 17 record breakers out of 24 brands, compared to 9 new sales records out of 28 mainstream brands. [Read more…]
A record 1,92 million new cars were sold in Europe in March 2017. This is an increase of 10,5% over March last year and the highest monthly volume ever recorded. Part of the explanation for the surge in sales is that Easter fell in April this year instead of in March, like last year, which means dealers had extra selling days in 2017. Still, almost 2 million sales in a single month is an impressive figure and it even comes close to the 2,02 million sales in China this same month. March sales are usually around 11,5% of total annual volume, which extrapolates to an expected record 16,7 million sales in 2017. That would be an increase of 10,3% on 2015 and significantly higher than the previous record of 16,1 million sales in 2004.
All five of the big markets showed strong growth in March, with Italy (+18,2%), Spain (+12,6%) and Germany (+11,4%) leading the way with double digit gains, while the UK (+8,4%) and France (+7%) grow slightly slower than te rest of the market. 16 out of the 30 markets showed double digit gains and only 5 lost volume, all in single digits. The fastest growing market was Greece (+49,5%), recovering from its deep recession. In the first quarter, European car sales increased 7,8% to 4,22 million units. Italy was the fastest growing of the big markets at +11,9%. [Read more…]
After a stable January, and a promising 20,2% gain in February 2017, March car sales in China are back to modest growth with a 2,9% increase to just over 2 million units. To put that small year-on-year growth into perspective: March 2012 sales just topped the 1 million units, so the market has doubled in 5 years time. In that light, a 3% improvement is quite a slowdown. Then again, first quarter sales are up 6% to 5,78 million and that’s on par with expectations, as sales growth was expected to slow down into the single digits after the tax increase on cars with engines of 1,6 liters or smaller, which made up over 70% of total sales last year. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate stands at 23,5 million in March. SUVs and crossovers are the main (and only) winners in March with sales up 20% to 832.300 units, while sedans surprisingly show a loss of 4,9% to 990.200 sales (first quarter sales are up just 0,8%), and MPVs lose volume for the third month in a row at -15% to 199.300. The central government cut EV subsidies last January but when sales plummeted to almost a halt that month, the subsidies were quickly reinstated, and as a result Sales of New Energy vehicles (EVs and PHEVs) jumped 36% in March to 25.342 EVs and 5.778 PHEVs, but the Q1 figure is still down 4,7% to 44.333 EVs and 11.596 PHEVs. After domestic brands broke a new record share of 46,5% in February, foreign automakers struck back in March with their locally produced models as the share of the domestics dropped to 43,6%. [Read more…]
The Shanghai Auto Show is the largest auto show in the world with 350.000 square meters (3.7 million square feet) of floor space, over 1.300 cars on display and close to 1 million visitors. And while you may think the cars from international brands are the most relevant for the worldwide automotive industry, the domestic Chinese automakers are eager to show off the impressive progress they’re making in terms of quality and design. Some of their launches and concept cars are destined to be exported to the European and US markets as well.
There’s simply too much news in Shanghai to discuss all the news, but we’ll take a closer look at the most relevant, most notworthy and most impressive production cars and concept cars.
Baojun 310 Wagon
Wagons are not a popular bodystyle in China, where sedans have traditionally ruled, MPVs were the alternative if more seats were required and SUVs are now the hottest thing around. Hatchbacks never really caught on in the People’s Republic either, which makes it that much more surprising that Baojun has a sudden hit this year with its ultra-cheap 310 hatchback, selling over 50.000 units in the first three months of 2017. Will the 310 Wagon be able to crack the cheap station wagon market in China too? [Read more…]
Sales of Alternative Power cars in the United States increased a hopeful 47.2% in the first quarter of 2017 to 41,132 units, or 1% of the total US market. This is a combination of a 39.4% growth for EVs to 21,379 sales and a 56.7% growth for PHEVs to 19,753 sales. The EV segment is still slightly larger but the PHEV segment grows faster and is catching up, as especially luxury brands are entering this niche of the market before making a switch to full electric models. While regular (non-plug in) hybrids are struggling due to low gas prices, EVs and PHEV continue to benefit from Federal and State rebates that stimulate sales of these vehicles. And new entrants will keep arriving in showrooms this year, so expect the growth to continue.
Sales of Commercial Vans in the US are down 5.4% in the first quarter of 2017 to 103,197 units, but this decline is completely due to small commercial vans, as all of the 5 players in this sub-segment lose by double digits for a 25.4% loss (to 17,882 sales), compared to stable sales for large commercial vans at 85,315 units. Keep in mind, these figures include both cargo vans and passenger vans. Small vans quickly gained popularity after new players emerged since 2013, after the Ford Transit Connect paved the way since 2009. The segment peaked at over 90,000 sales in 2015 and 2016, but that appears to have been the ceiling for its potential, at least at the current level of gas prices, which means companies prefer the added practicality of large vans or even pickup trucks over the efficiency of smaller vans. The large van segment peaked at almost 372,000 sales last year, the highest volume in 28 years, and a stable start of the year is a signal of continued strength of and confidence in the US economy. [Read more…]
Sales of Large Sports Cars and Exotics fell by 5.5% in the first quarter of 2017, following a 10.4% decline in 2016. Total volume in this segment stood at 11,370 in Q1. And there’s not a lot of product news expected this year, so the decline is expected to last throughout the year. Then again, keep in mind the segment peaked at over 60,000 sales in 2015, when it almost doubled up in just 3 years time, so small declines after such an impressive growth curve are nothing to be ashamed of, especially on the lack of product news, as mentioned. We do welcome two newcomers to the segment compared to Q1 of last year, but both are still at the bottom of the ranking: the second generation Acura NSX and the all-new Ford GT.
The Small Premium Sports segment accelerates its rate of decline as sales in the first quarter of 2017 are down by 11.6% to a mere 3,001 sales. In 2016, the smallest segment in the industry already shrank by 1.8%, despite a still very fresh line-up of contenders and three updated models: the facelifted Mercedes-Benz SLK, now renamed SLC, and the facelifted Porsche Boxster and Cayman, now renamed 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman. 2017 is expected to bring a new BMW Z5, co-developed with Toyota, which will launch its new Supra on the same platform, but I’m doubtful if that can turn the segment around, also because it’s unlikely to arrive in showrooms long before the end of the year.
The Small Sports segment accelerates its decline in the first quarter of 2017 with a loss of 16.8% after already losing 6.5 percent in 2016. Sales of small sports cars dropped to 69,938 in Q1 as 9 out of the 13 models lost volume, of which 7 with double digits. The top-3 are the American muscle cars, which hold more than three quarters of the segment and they lose slightly faster than the rest of the segment. And keeping in mind sales of muscle cars have traditionally proven to be a bellwether for the entire US car market, this could be yet another indication that car sales have hit their peak. Hopefully the facelifted Ford Mustang can breathe some much-needed new life into the segment. The only other sports car news in 2017 will be the new Toyota Supra, co-developed by the Japanese brand with BMW.