The Bentayga Bentayga has gotten plenty of flack ever since it came out, and pretty deservedly in my opinion. First, there is the shape with its long front overhang, which largely determined by hard points inherited from its platform twin, the Audi Q7, and which lacks the gloriously long hood that gives the Mulsanne and even the Continental GT their recognizable look. But Bentley did itself no favors with the detailing either – the oft-maligned cock-eyed front, the gauche fake air outlets in the front fenders, or the overdrawn “power curve” over the rear wheels that was cribbed from the Continental GT and forced onto a slab-sided SUV surface. But my biggest disappointment was always the rear, which is the worst thing for a luxury car – anonymous. The blame here lies mostly with the rear lights, which on top of being rather bland also remind of those of a mainstream non-premium car…
Archives for April 2017
The Minicar segment in the United States has returned to growth in 2017 after an abysmal 2016 when sales dipped with double digits. In the first quarter of 2017, sales of North America’s smallest vehicles grew by 8.5% to 27,388 units. Fueling this increased demand were the new generation Chevrolet Spark and the facelift of the Mitsubishi Mirage, which have now taken over the first two spots of the segment podium, knocking the former leader Mini Cooper down to third. The Fiat 500 appears to have hit rock bottom and slightly recovers this year
After discussing the US auto brand sales ranking for March, let’s take a closer look at the models ranking. If the top-3 is traditionally pretty stable, in March the RAM Pickup outsold its rival Chevrolet Silverado for only the second time in 36 months as sales of the latter dipped 11.6%, resulting in a loss for the first quarter. The Silverado’s sibling GMC Sierra in 20th place also takes a hit in March to dip into the red for the quarter. Big surprise this year is the surging Nissan Rogue, taking the title of best selling non-pickup truck with sales up more than 40% and it continues this streak in March, not only outselling its rivals Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, but also the traditional #4 Toyota Camry, which is down 3.6% for the month and 13.3% for the quarter. The Camry’s midsized sedan rivals Nissan Altima and Honda Accord take even bigger hits in March, and all remaining sedan models in the top-10 lose volume this month. This underscores the shift away from sedans to crossovers, which has never been as apparent as now: in the first quarter of 2017, 63% of vehicles sold in the US were “light trucks”: pickups, SUVs, crossovers and minivans, compared to just 37% for cars: sedans, hatchbacks and station wagons. The last time the difference between cars and light trucks was this large was in 1993, when cars took 61,2% of the market and light trucks just 38,8%. Of the 104 models that showed a year-over-year increase in March, 55 were light trucks and 49 were cars, while of the 162 losers, 92 were cars vs. 70 light trucks. This trend is even stronger visible in the US than in Europe, where crossovers are also taking share away from cars. [Read more…]
President Donald Trump has offended the Mexicans in more than one way, and building even a virtual wall between the US and Mexico will affect trade between the two powers in a negative way, which would greatly affect the automotive industry, perhaps more than any other. Thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement, a great number of carmakers have set up manufacturing facilities south of the Rio Grande to benefit from more than just lower wages to produce their lowest-margin vehicles. Any disturbance in the free trade agreement, most likely import duties, would increase costs for these manufacturers and have a negative impact on consumer prices in the US. Ford has already withdrawn plans to build a new US$1.6 billion plant in central Mexico’s San Luis Potosi in January in favor of a US$700 million upgrade to its Flat Rock, Michigan plant and others may think twice before becoming the target of one of Trump’s Twitter rages. However, as the US is shunning Mexico, the Chinese are more than happy to step in and invest in the growing market.
The success of Mexico
But first we need to look at what made Mexico such a phenomenal automotive production hub, and why automakers from outside North America have invested more than US$13.3 billion in Mexico since 2010, which is more than half of the US$24 billion invested in total. Ironically, Mexico’s low wages make up only a small portion of the explanation, as the biggest reason to build in Mexico is that the country has freer trade with the rest of the world than the US does: Mexican-made cars can be exported duty-free to 44 countries compared to just 20 for US-made cars, which make up only 9% of global car sales. [Read more…]
A few weeks ago, when we were looking at which cars were leading their segments in Europe in 2016, one of our readers wondered how the market as a whole has evolved over the past decades: which segments have grown and which have decreased and what trends are visible in the market? As it turns out, the total market volume in 2016 is actually very comparable to that of 2001, as the European car market had a size of just over 15 million sales both last year and 15 years ago. Of course, in the meantime there have been great fluctuations, as the market peaked at over 16 million in 2004 and then crashed to just 12,3 million in 2013, and also between the segments there have been shifts in the period between then and now. But overall there’s a clear trend visible: mainstream brands have stagnated while luxury brands have floundered, MPVs made a brief successful run in the first half of the 2000’s, but since then it’s been all about crossovers and SUVs, while regular cars have been down across the board. So let’s take a more in-depth look at the trends we can see happening for the past 15 years.
The new Opel/Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport is a fine-looking machine, though I may be a little bit less hot on it than some of the more enthusiastic commentators on the web. In particular, I feel that its detailing is a bit under-resolved, the rear is bland, and the whole looks less sporty than the model it replaces. One thing that I have to say I like a lot on the new model is the new prominent grille, which gives the car an aggressive aura that was maybe missing from the previous model. It also gives it, however, a more than a passing resemblance to one of its more premium competitors…
With a third straight month of sales decline in 2017, with sales dropping by 1.7% to 1,450,443 units, I think it’s fair to say that the car market is going to have a hard time surpassing the sales record set in 2016. In fact, it is looking increasingly likely that this year will mark the end of a remarkable run of seven years of sales growth. What’s more, the split between SUVs/crossovers and mainstream models is widening ever faster – in March sales of SUVs/crossovers grew by 5.4%, while sales of mainstream models fell by 11.0%.
After discussing European car sales for February 2017 by brand, let’s check out what the model ranking looks like in the second month of 2017. Traditional leader Volkswagen Golf continues its double digit decline after a stable January. Besides its facelift, which still has to pick up steam, the Golf is hurt by increased competition from the Opel/Vauxhall Astra and Renault Megane, but also by increased internal competition from the new Tiguan and Seat Ateca. The Renault Clio continues to improve and reclaims the 2nd spot it held in 2016, ahead of the VW Polo and Ford Fiesta, two models that are due to be replaced this year. For the first time since last September the Nissan Qashqai is the best selling crossover in Europe again, and for the first time since last August there’s only one crossover in the top-10. The Fiat Panda hits its highest ranking in 7 years with a 6th place, ahead of the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa and Peugeot 208. The Astra is down into 9th place despite still growing almost 10%, and it remains the #2 compact car ahead of the Skoda Octavia. The Volkswagen Tiguan is out of the top-10 for the first time since last July despite being the fastest growing model in the top-25. [Read more…]
Following months of negotiations over beers and take-away Chinese, we have come to an agreement that will see CarSalesBase merge with CarScoops.