US sales 2016 Mid-sized segment

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Sales in the Mid-sized segment fell by 10.1 percent in 2016, a performance so bad it almost matched the 11.0 percent fall in sales registered by the Minicar segment (the worst among all mainstream segments). Midsized cars used to be the segment where the money was made, even when SUVs and crossovers started to gain a foothold in the US car market during the 1990s and early 2000s. But that boom has started to pick up speed this year, fueled by hot new models and affordable gas. In contrast there haven’t been many major model updates in the midsized segment lately. As a result, the largest-selling segment in 2016 by far was Compact SUVs (sales up 3.9 percent),  with Mid-sized cars coming in second, followed closely by the Large Pickups and Compact segments (sales up 3.6 and down 4.5 percent, respectively). With new models like Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima failing to connect with buyers, only the new Toyota Camry and Honda Accord stand between the segment and losing third spot in the standings to the Large Pickups segment.

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US sales 2016 Compact segment

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Sales in the Compact segment fell steadily throughout 2016, thought the rate of decline slowed down slightly as the year progressed. Still, sales in 2016 ended up 4.5 percent below the level reached in 2015, making this the first time that overall sales in the segment declined year-on-year since the market collapsed in 2009. Moreover, the decline is driven by most models losing sales to some degree or another, with only four cars that were sold all year long in 2015 and 2016 registering positive growth in 2016: Honda CivicNissan SentraSubaru Impreza and Kia ForteContinue Reading …

US sales 2016 Subcompact segment

Sales of subcompact cars rebounded slightly in the fourth quarter of 2016, growing by 2 percent relative to Q4’15, allowing the segment to cut the annual fall in sales to 3 percent. This is a very respectable performance for a segment where most cars are older designs, either in the second half of their life-cycle (Nissan VersaToyota Yaris) or about to be replaced (Chevrolet SonicFord FiestaHyundai Accent and Kia Rio). And while the segment still only sells less than a third of what the Compact segment manages, 2016 is notable as the first time that the Subcompact segment outsold the Minivan segment over the course of a year.

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US sales 2016 Minicar segment

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The Minicar segment in the United States has been hurt badly by the low gasoline prices in 2016, with sales down 11.0%, the worst fall from all the segments. However, the situation improved markedly for the segment in Q4, when it was the only segment to substantial growth (5.6 percent), driven mainly by substantial sales growth for models: Chevrolet Spark and Mitsubishi Mirage.

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Look-a-like: Kia Stinger and…

The Kia Stinger is probably our favorite car to debut at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, and with good reason – it is a powerful, RWD 5-door coupe which shows that Kia is not afraid to go toe-to-toe with Audi and BMW. Most important, though – it looks great, with a squat stance afforded by its width and low height, as well as a swept-back proportions that make it look as though it’s going fast even when it’s standing still. And it’s exactly that last part, those unique proportions, that to my eyes owe a debt of gratitude to another great-looking car, and not coincidentally a part-rival which the Kia will undercut significantly on price, if not looks…

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Predictions for 2017: US

Looking ahead, even one year, can be very tricky. Last year we nominated two brands as potentially doing well in 2016, and ended up being only half right: we correctly predicted Volvo‘s growth, but thought that Buick would do better than barely out-performing the market. We did even less well when predicting the disappointments of 2016 – both Cadillac‘s and Mitsubishi‘s sales in 2016 were not great, but still better than for many of their competitors. Cadillac’s sales may have fallen by 1.9 percent compared to 2015, but the brand still did better than Lexus (down 3.9 percent), Acura (down 8.9 percent) or BMW (down 9.5 percent). Mitsubishi did even better, with sales actually rising by 1.0 percent compared to 2015, better than many more fancied brands such as Mazda (sales down 6.7 percent), Chevrolet (down 1.4 percent), Toyota (down 0.7 percent) or Ford (down 0.6 percent). Time will tell whether we do better this time around!

1. Honda: success

Honda had a very good 2016, with growth its growth of 4.8 percent handily out-pacing the decline in sales among the three brands ahead of it (FordChevrolet and Toyota). This performance came from the sales growth in two new mainstream models: the Civic (sales up 9.4 percent) and HR-V (sales up 95.5 percent). The reason we can expect the good times to continue at Honda is that for 2017 it has three new models: CR-V (revealed in the fall of 2016), Odyssey (revealed in Detroit this week) and Accord (to be revealed soon). Of the three, Civic and Accord regularly rank in the top 10 of model sales, with the Odyssey adding another 100k+ of sales each year – it should thus be reasonable for Honda’s sales to go up significantly once all of those models hit the market.

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Detroit Auto Show: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly [w/ poll]

Here’s our take on the hits and misses of the Detroit Auto Show, make sure to let us know what you thought in the poll and the comments section!

BMW 5-series

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Bart: Hit

Packed with new technology and undoubtedly again being one of the best driving sedans in its class, the new 5-Series will (depending on your personal preferences) either come close to or beat the standard set by the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class. But where the E-Class was mostly criticised for looking too much like its larger and smaller siblings, the 5-Series looks too much like the previous model. Did I miss the news that BMW hired a former Volkswagen designer? However, this doesn’t mean I don’t like its looks. With the right (M-Sport?) bodykit and wheels and a color a bit more inspiring than the obbligato fifty shades of grey, blue or black, this can be a very desirable looking car that will remain the obvious choice for the decreasing number of luxury buyers who still prefer a sedan over an SUV.

Kriss: So-so

I agree with pretty much everything Bart said, and yet I still can’t rate the BMW a “Hit”. Why is that? Objectively, the car has everything going for it – technology, BMW’s legendary chassis tuning, straight-six engines, and a smart and light construction (recently read a comparison test with the E-class, and saw that the 4wd 530d xDrive is 100kg lighter than the 2wd E-class 350d). However, subjectively the car is lacking that certain “want it” factor – the one that made the E34 and E39 generations so achingly desirable, no matter what specification or color they were in. While the E-class boast a stunning interior, the BMW looks too much like its predecessor inside; to me this is especially disappointing given that BMW showed us with the i3 and i8 of creating genuinely stunning interiors. Call it a case of sky-high expectations, but the new 5-series is just not a “Hit” to me.

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Look-a-like: GAC GS7/GS8 and…

GAC GS8 and its smaller brother GS7 (which made its debut in Detroit this week), are two of the more eye-catching cars to come from a Chinese manufacturer recently. What makes them stand out is that they have something that many Chinese (and, for that matter, other) cars lack – a clean and confident design that’s instantly recognizable thanks to a memorable lights and grille treatment that, with familiarity, might evolve into the “GAC family look”. That said, despite the end-product being pretty unique-looking, from the front the cars remind me more than a bit of a well-established American SUV… 

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US sales: December 2016, models

 

After discussing the US auto brand sales ranking for December, let’s zoom in on the models.… Continue Reading …

US sales: December 2016, brands

US car sales were  1,688,108  in December, a monthly record in 2016, though not one that was unexpected given that sales usually spike in the holiday season. Importantly, this marked a 3.0 percent increase on December 2015, which combined with a similar monthly increase in November managed to pull the overall sales for 2016 above those recorded in 2015 by around 56,000 cars. But before we look at how 2016 compared to 2015 (that article is coming soon), let’s look at how brands did in December 2016.
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