Sales of domestic passenger cars in China beat all expectations for January 2018 with an 11% increase to 2,4 million sales. Analysts and experts had expected a slow start of the year as the tax cut on cars with engines of 1,6 liters or less had ended. However, January 2017 was an exceptionally slow month with stable sales on the same month in 2016 while February last year suddenly showed 20% growth on the year before. This phenomenon was due to the Chinese New Year celebrations last year falling in January, as opposed to February in 2016 and 2018. This means that next month is likely to balance off the January performance with stable sales or perhaps even a small decline. This is also reflected in the Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate which is down by 1 million on January 2017 at 24,74 million. We’ll need to analylse combined January and February figures to be able to draw a thorough conclusion of the state of the Chinese auto market. [Read more…]
Archives for February 2018
Sales of premium large SUVs in Europe declined in 2017 after three consecutive years of explosive growth during which 100.000 annual sales were added. A lack of new products may be responsible for the slowdown which caused sales to slip 6% to 270.000 units, or 1,7% of the overall European car market, down from 1,9% in 2016. The entire top-5 is down for the year and only 6 out of the 19 players in this class improve their volume this year. As you can read below, 2018 promises to bring a lot of news again so growth is expected to pick back up again. Class leader BMW X5 moves with the segment at -7%, maintaining its share at 12,8% and keeping distance to its closest rivals, the Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7 which were both in their second full year, compared to the X5 which is in its last full year. The XC90 was the best seller in the fourth quarter, allowing it to reclaim the #2 spot from the Q7. Likewise, the Mercedes-Benz GLE managed to finish the year ahead of the Range Rover Sport thanks to an excellent fourth quarter, even though both models lost more than the segment average. The new generation Land Rover Discovery more than tripled its volume in Q4 and grew by 29% for the year to reach the highest volume for the nameplate since 2007. [Read more…]
Sales of midsized premium SUVs in Europe continue to boom with a fourth consecutive year of double digit growth, of which the last three years showed at least 20% growth. In 2017, the segment grew by 21% to a record 492.500 sales, or 3,2% of the overall European car market, up from 2,7% in 2016. The first nameplate in this segment to top 100.000 annual sales is the Mercedes-Benz GLC, a runaway success for the brand which had struggled with the unsuccessful GLK until just a few years ago. Keep in mind these figures include sales of the GLC Coupe version, as the GLC would be in second place with just over 85.000 sales without the Coupe. Then again, its closest rival and former segment leader Volvo XC60 benefits from also having 2 different versions available for a few months after the arrival of the new generation. Especially in its home market Sweden the outgoing XC60 was continued to be sold at reduced prices alongside the new version, allowing it to become the best selling model there for the first time ever. Still, it’s impressive how the model was able to finish on such a high note, setting three consecutive annual sales records at the end of its life cycle and then extending that to a fourth record during the year of the model change to the new generation. It will be interesting to see if the new XC60 can continue this strong showing, considering the nameplate was down 11% in the fourth quarter when production of the first generation finally ended.
Sales in the limousine segment in Europe improved sharply in the second half of 2017 to pull the full-year figure up 13% after a 5% gain in the first half. Nearly 46.000 limousines were sold last year, 0,3% of the total European car market. Despite this impressive gain, only 2 models in the segment top-5 improve on last year, as the segment leader Mercedes-Benz S-Class is stable with a 200-unit loss thanks to a 30% gain in the fourth quarter when the facelifted version became fully available. The S-Class lost 4,6 percentage points of share in 2017, but that’s still much better than its closest rival BMW 7-series which was only in its second full year of sales but already lost 13% of its volume and 7,6 percentage points of share as the new generation’s design apparently doesn’t have a long shelf life. On the other hand, this is the third-best year for the model since 2006, and don’t forget the S-Class also includes sales of the coupe and convertible versions. Big winner of the segment is the Porsche Panamera with sales up more than threefold thanks to the new generation. The Panamera outsold the 7-Series in both the third and fourth quarters, helped by the S e-Hybrid version, but was unable to topple the BMW for 2nd place in the segment. The Sport Turismo version should help the Porsche move ahead of its rival in 2018, but it remains to be seen if that’s also enough to grab the #2 spot then, as the new generation Audi A8 is also in showrooms and looking to move up a few notches.
After 5 years of small declines, sales of premium large cars in Europe rebound sharply in 2017, bouncing back to their 2012 level and back above 400.000 units again after 3 years below that threshold. A 13% gain outperforms the overall market, growing the share of the segment to 2,7%, up from 2,5%. In both the third and fourth quarters the segment growth even accelerated to 19% over 2016. The redesigned BMW 5-series is unable to knock the Mercedes-Benz E-Class off its throne, but keep in mind the latter is helped by coupe and convertible versions which the 5-Series doesn’t have. So in terms of pure sedan and station wagon sales, the battle will be much closer or could even fall in favor of the BMW. Both models gain volume with impressive numbers and increase their combined share of the segment by 7,7 percentage points to 56,2% which means that more than half of every car sold in this class is either a E-Class or a 5-Series. Most of the share gains for these two come from their closest rival Audi A6 which is down by 16% to lose 6,3 percentage points of share as it is due for an all-new generation in 2018. Expect the A6 to suffer even more in the first half of this year before rebounding when customer deliveries of the new model start, but that won’t be enough for the nameplate to return to the top of the chart where it also stood in 2015 and from 2005 to 2007. Perhaps again in 2019?
Sales of premium midsized cars in Europe dip slightly in 2017 with a 2% decline to 694.000 sales, 4,5% of the overall car market, down from 4,7% in 2016. This is a much better performance than that of mainstream midsized cars which are down 13% but both continue to lose volume to crossovers. Segment leader Mercedes-Benz C-Class consolidates its leadership with sales up less than 1% while its two closest rivals show double digit declines. Keep in mind that the C-Class is available in 4 versions: sedan, station wagon, coupe and convertible, while Audi and BMW split up sales of their traditional sedan and wagon versions from the more stylish counterparts. When combining all versions (as displayed in the graph), Audi takes the segment lead from BMW with over 207.000 sales (up from 206.000) vs nearly 194.000 sales (down from 212.000). Audi is boosted by the new generation A5 coupe, convertible and Sportback, up 41% on the outgoing model, although this may cannibalize sales of the regular A4, down 10%. However, that is not enough for the A5 to outsell its rival BMW 4-series, also available as a coupe, convertible and 4-door Gran Coupe. In the fourth quarter the 4-Series outsold the A5 again after the tables had been turned in Q2 and Q3. These 3 German brands now control 83,3% of the segment. However, as one of our readers pointed out a few weeks ago, Audi’s volume comes mostly from the entry-level engine specifications
Sales of premium compact cars Europe are back to their 2015 volume after peaking at almost 940.000 units in 2016. With nearly 874.000 sales in 2017, the segment accounts for 5,6% of the total European car market, down from 6,1% the year before. The average age of the models in this segment is relatively high which explains some of the decline. The top-10 models ranking is exactly the same as 2016 but there have been some individual fluctuations and we have a new leader in the brands ranking. Audi still holds the top spot with the A3, but its 14% loss means a 1,5 percentage point of lost share as its rivals are closing in. The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is pretty stable for a model that will be renewed in 2018 and stays ahead of the BMW 1-series as both models add more than a full percentage point of share. As a result, this top-3 increases its share of the segment to 51% and they are the only nameplates with 6-figure sales. The BMW 2-Series Active and Gran Tourer MPVs are down 15% as they’re being updated early 2018, but at least they remain well ahead of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, whose next generation will also include a 7-seater option. In fifth place, Volvo is best of the rest as usual in the premium segments in Europe, with the V40 pretty stable at -6%.
The large SUV segment is one of the smallest in Europe with fewer than 53.000 sales in 2017, down 4%. Compare that to the US where almost 2 million of these vehicles were sold last year, up 9,4% and surpassing sales of midsized sedans for the first time. Unlike the midsized crossover segment, where some models are also available as 7-seaters, there are not a lot of new entrants to this segment in Europe, but brands are actually withdrawing their slow selling models, like Nissan which no longer sells the Murano and Pathfinder and Mazda which never really sold the CX-9 in significant quantities, as opposed to the US. Then again, Ford entered the segment in 2016 by bringing the Edge over from the States. And while absolute volume remains relatively low (16.000 in Europe vs. nearly 143.000 in the US), it has quickly become the segment leader with more than 30% share. However, the Edge was already down 31% in the last quarter when the segment as a whole lost 25% as the entire top-5 lost by double digits. Only the low-volume SsangYong Rexton gained volume thanks to the all-new generation now available in Europe. [Read more…]
Sales of compact crossovers continue to surge in Europe, with a 30% gain in 2017 to nearly 1,5 million sales or 9,6% of the overall market, up from 7,7% in 2016. The entire top-5 has set new sales records in 2017. We’ve decided to separate the tables of the compact and midsized crossover segments but still feature them in one post and in one graph as the models in these classes are so close to each other in size and there are so many different opinions on which models belong in which of these segments. Combined, sales in these segments are up 32% to 11,9% of the total European car market, of which Renault-Nissan controls 26% and VW Group 20%. The Nissan Qashqai is still the best selling crossover in Europe, despite adding just 6% to its record volume of 2016 to close in on a quarter million sales. Its closest rival is still the Volkswagen Tiguan, up 31% to become the second nameplate in this segment to top 200.000 sales and to close the gap with the top spot to less than 14.000 sales. The new Peugeot 3008 immediately jumps onto the segment podium with nearly 170.000 sales in its first full year, an impressive performance against any standard. It beats the two South-Korean rivals that have fought for the segment podium for years as well as the Ford Kuga which shows an impressive 27% growth despite being 5 years old already, apart from a facelift in 2016.
Segment growth tops 25% thanks in large part to Chevy Bolt, despite Tesla Model 3 struggles
Having analyzed 2017 sales of hybrid green cars and PHEV green cars, let’s look at the final green segment: electric vehicles, or EV for short. Sales of EV vehicles rose by 19.2% to 29,486 in the fourth quarter of 2017, while overall sales in 2017 rose by 25.9% to 104,195. This makes this the second-fastest of all types of vehicles, second only [Read more…]