Archives for April 2017

US sales 2017-Q1 Large SUV segment

US SUV Large

Sales in the Large SUV segment increased by 25.9% in Q1 of 2017, after already improving more than 20% in 2016. A total of 80,604 large SUVs were sold in the US in the first three months of the year, making it the second-fastest growing segment overall and the fastest growing mainstream segment. Still, it’s a far cry from the 750,000 annual units the segment sold in the first few years of the new millennium so there’s plenty of room to grow, especially with continued low gas prices. Each of the segment’s 8 models increased its volume, of which only one with single digits. The Nissan Armada even more than doubles up thanks to the new model generation, while 2017 will also bring an all-new Ford Expedition.

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US sales 2017-Q1 Mid-sized SUV segment

US-sales-midsized_SUV-segment-2016-Kia_Sorento-Chevrolet_Traverse-Ford_Explorer-Dodge_Durango-Nissan_Pathfinder-Honda_Pilot-Toyota_HighlanderSales in the Mid-sized SUV segment increased by 7.3% in the first quarter of 2017, following a 4.4% gain in 2016. Total volume for Q1 was 445,875, which means it’s closing in on the midsized sedan segment. Of the 18 models in this segment, 7 showed double digit growth or better, 8 showed double digit declines, 2 showed single digit declines and only one model increased by less than 10%. This year we’ll see the introduction of the new, super-conservative VW Atlas, as well as the second-generation Buick EnclaveChevrolet Traverse and the smaller (“right-sized”) GMC Acadia and an updated Ford Explorer. Next year Subaru will join the party too with its Ascent.… Continue Reading …

US sales 2017-Q1 Compact SUV segment

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After a 3.9% increase in 2016, sales in the Compact SUV segment pick up steam and improve 9% in the first quarter of 2017, to 742,230 units. This makes it by far the largest segment with a comfortable lead of more than 200,000 sales over the second-largest segment, that of large pickup trucks. It’s also 270,000 sales ahead of the midsized sedan segment, which used to be the biggest segment until 2013. A whole bunch of new or redesigned models will hit the market this year or already have in the first quarter, which should only help the cars in this segment consolidate its position as the family-hauler favorites.

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US sales 2017-Q1 Subcompact SUV segment

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After booming growth rates in the last couple of quarters, the Subcompact SUV segment takes a brief moment of pauze, although its 12.1% growth rate to 93,249 sales is still much better than any of the other mainstream segments with the exception of the Full-sized SUV segment. The reason for the slower growth pace is the lack of new models to the segment lately, but that will pick up later this year as Hyundai and Kia are expected to launch their small crossovers Kona and Stonic, Toyota will launch the C-HR and Ford will bring an updated version of its EcoSport to the US, while Volkswagen will be traditionally late to the party with the T-Roc which isn’t expected Stateside before 2019.

In the meantime, the segment is shifting between winners and losers, with the entire top-4 consolidating thanks to double digit increases, with the #4 growing the fastest and the #1 the slowest, while the bottom 3 are all losing by double digits and therefore falling further behind.

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New York Auto Show 2017: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

The annual New York Auto Show is one of the most popular auto shows in the world, it’s traditionally held at the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan and this year it runs  from Friday April 14 through Sunday April 23. That means it’s the last of the major auto shows in North America, after LA in November, Detroit in January and Chicago in February. As a result, the number of real new product launches and concept cars is relatively limited, especially compared to the most important of them all: Geneva. Still, we’ve had our pick of winners and losers of the show, and as usual we just can’t seem to agree on most of them. Let us know your view in the poll or in the comments below.

Production cars:

Acura TLX (facelift)

2017-New_York-Auto_Show-Acura_TLXKriss: Not

See the new TLX in isolation and you may think to yourself “wow, this is a pretty good-looking car”, but wish the grille wasn’t quite as big and brash as it is. Well, then, you’re in luck – there is a version of this car without this ugly new grille, and it’s called the pre-facelift TLX. Now, don’t get me wrong, the TLX is still pretty good looking, it’s just that with this facelift Acura managed to either botch the changes the TLX needed (the new grille is not an improvement, and does not go far enough to give this car “personality”) and not change things at all (the interior still looks no better than on the mass-market Accord). Acura is desperately looking for a car that will change the fortunes of its mainstream offerings, and this is not it, sadly.

Bart: Hot

What a difference a grille makes! Acura pulls trick from the Lexus playbook, using the motto: it doesn’t have to be stylish, as long as it’s brash. As opposed to Kriss, I think it’s an improvement compared to the pre-facelift version. The TLX goes from utter wallflower with its beak-nose to one of the most aggressive designs in the segment with its enormously wide grille. I don’t find it particularly sophisticated, or even attractive for that matter (I’d still prefer a C-Class, Q50 or even the aging 3-Series over it), but I just have to admire Acura for finally getting the point that just another vanilla sedan just isn’t going to cut it in this competitive segment anymore. Besides the sheer size of the grille, and the graphics inside it, there’s one more issue I have with the front end of the updated TLX: the lower part seems visually wider than the rest, which gives it a bit of a “heavy” presence, as if it has a double chin. The rear end has been cleaned up nicely, though.

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US sales 2017-Q1 Minivan segment

US-sales-minivan-segment-2016-Honda_Odyssey-Toyota_Sienna-Kia_Sedona-Nissan_Quest-Dodge_Grand_CaravanAfter growing slightly in 2016, the Minivan segment is back in decline in the first quarter of 2017 with sales down 14.4% to 122,787 units. The segment that sold over 1.2 million units a year in its peak years 1999 and 2000, and still made up over a million sales as recently as 2005 has hovered around half that figure since 2009 and can’t seem to make a decent recovery as 7-seater crossovers are simply more trendy than minivans, which suffer from their soccer-mom image even though they’re much more practical and efficient in real life. Even the all-new Chrysler Pacifica can’t reverse the slide, and if even the new Honda Odyssey, due later this year, can’t stabilize the segment, it may be doomed.

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US sales 2017-Q1 Large segment

US large segmentThe Large Car segment fell by almost as much as the Midsized segment in the first quarter of 2017: down 18.4% to 104,985 sales. The segment that has already completely disappeared in Europe about 10 years ago is in danger of extinction in the US too, as there are few plans for new models anytime soon (just the new generation of the slow-selling Azera), so the double digit declines are likely to continue through the rest of this year. There basically are two tiers in this segment: the still relatively fresh models (Impala, Maxima, LaCrosse, Cadenza) and the decade-old models that have seen their life cycles extended for yet another few years (Charger, 300, Taurus) or which will be axed soon (SS, Caprice). The one stuck in the middle is the Avalon at 5 years old. Of the 11 nameplates in this segment, 7 showed double digit declines, only three showed single digit declines and a single model improved (Chevy SS), and that’s probably because dealers are dumping off their last remaining stock before the model is killed off.… Continue Reading …

US sales 2017-Q1 Mid-sized segment

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Sales of Mid-sized cars in the US are in a similar tough spot as in Europe: down by 19.2% in Q1 of 2017 and dipping below half a million units at 472,692 sales. This is the worst drop among all mainstream segments and second to only the premium large car segment. As a result, the compact car segment has now become larger in volume than the midsized car segment, and if it keeps this position until the end of this year it would be the very first time ever that the midsized segment is not the largest mainstream car segment in the US. And with the large pickup truck segment also outselling the midsized cars in Q1, this segment has gone from perennial #1 until 2015 to out of the top-3 so far in 2017. The main culprit for this demise is obviously a shift towards compact crossovers, the largest segment since last year. This trend is clearly visible in the March and Q1 model rankings: if the Camry and Accord used to fight for the title of best selling non-pickup in America, now the Accord is out of the overall top-10 and the Camry is outsold by the Nissan Rogue, with the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 right on its heels.

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US sales 2017-Q1 Compact segment

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Sales in the Compact segment continue their slow but steady decline with a 3.4% loss in Q1 of 2017, to 532,744 units, although that’s a lower rate of decline than for the full year 2016 and significantly better than the double digit declines of the subcompact and midsized car segments. Within the segment, there are some clear changes in the ranking, with 6 models in the top-15 showing double digit gains and another 4 showing double digit declines. The two perennial segment leaders Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla hold on to their controlling lead but are losing a bit of share as both show single digit declines in the first quarter.… Continue Reading …

US sales 2017-Q1 Subcompact segment

While minicars rebounded in Q1 of 2017, the subcompact car segment started the year deep in the red with a loss of 15.7% compared to the first quarter of 2016, for a total of 117,995 sales. The segment top-3 all lost with double digits, as the rise of the subcompact crossover segment undoubtedly plays a role in the struggles of the similarly sized sedans and hatchbacks. Then again, no less than four out of the nine players are due to be renewed this year (Chevrolet SonicFord FiestaHyundai Accent and Kia Rio), while two others are in the second half of their life-cycle (Nissan VersaToyota Yaris) as well.

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