US sales Q3 2017: Compact segment

Compact segment continues its slow declineUS-sales-compact_car-segment-2016-Chevrolet_Cruze-Honda_Civic-Nissan_Sentra-Hyundai_Elantra-Mazda3

The compact segment continued its slow decline, with sales falling by 2% in the third quarter of 2017. So far this year sales have declined by 3.4% to 1,709,103, which may not be great, but it has allowed the segment to open a commanding lead of almost 200,000 units compared to the mid-sized segment, with which it was pretty much even this time last year. While there aren’t any new models that will hit the market in the next half a year, the segment may yet bounce up as the period after that promises a lot of new metal: Ford Focus and VW Jetta are about to be replaced, while a new Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla are likely to be not far behind. In the meantime, there is a lot of excitement about the alternative power cars of compact size, with the new electric Chevrolet Bolt and the PHEV Toyota Prius Prime in particular starting to make a meaningful dent in the sales figures.

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Polestar 1 revealed, but is enough to anchor the new brand? [w/ poll]

After one of those annoying slow-revealing image launch campaigns, today we saw the final reveal of the new Polestar 1, the first car from Volvo’s new brand dedicated to electric cars. However, despite its stunning looks and an exciting combination of existing technology and bespoke components, the model’s launch has me questioning whether the brand is off to the best possible start with the 1.

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US sales Q3 2017: Subcompact segment

All models in the Subcompact segment lose sales except for Toyota iA (néeScion)

Sales in the subcompact segment in the United States continued falling in the third quarter of 2017, dropping from just under half a million in 2016 to 376,213 in the first three quarters of 2017, which is less than the number of minivans sold over the same period. The decline has been pretty consistent so far this year, with the rate of decline ranging between 15% and 25% over the three quarters, and suggests customers are eschewing this segment in favor of subcompact SUVs. It will be interesting whether the new Ford FiestaHyundai Accent and Kia Rio will be able to turn this around once they hit the market, but given the disappointing performance of the new Honda Fit the signs are not very promising.

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US sales Q3 2017: Minicar segment

The collapse of the Minicar segment continues

US-sales-minicar-segment-2016-Chevrolet_Spark-Mitsubishi_Mirage

After briefly returning to growth in the first quarter of 2017, the minicar segment in the United States fell back into the red in the second quarter of this year, and firmly remained there in the third quarter, even if the 36% fall in sales in Q3 was slightly less bad than the 47% drop recorded in Q2. All in all, sales in the minicar segment were only 63,023 over the first three quarters of 2017, down from 90,095 in 2016, which is roughly how many Toyota RAV4s are sold in a month and a half!

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US sales: September 2017, models

After discussing the US auto brand sales ranking for September, let’s zoom in on the models ranking.

Top 10

Toyota RAV4

For the fifth time in the past nine months there’s no sedan in the Top 5, as behind the traditional three pick up trucks we find two crossovers. The Ford F-series improves more than 21% to top 80,000 sales for the second time this year, and for only the third September ever. It’s also the third-best month in the last decade for the pick up truck, after December 2016 and December 2015. The Chevy Silverado improves by a similar figure to its best September in a decade, while the Ram Pickup stays behind with a small loss. After two consecutive months of new volume records, the Toyota RAV4 takes a breather to make this month its second-best ever after August. It’s also the third straight month of 40,000+ sales for the nameplate, a figure it had never reached before. This keeps it ahead of its rival Nissan Rogue, which sets its third-best ever month, after December 2016 and last March. Keep in mind these figures now include sales of the Rogue Sport, a.k.a. Qashqai in Europe, which Nissan unfortunately does not split, despite it really being two different models. That leaves Honda as the first brand whose best seller is still a sedan, as the Civic outsells the CR-V thanks to a gain of almost 26% for the former vs. a loss of almost 3% for the latter despite a new generation. In the struggling mid-sized sedan segment, the Toyota Camry remains on top with its second consecutive month of double digit gains, while the all-new Honda Accord still needs to gain momentum in customer deliveries.

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Look-a-like: Nissan Micra and…

The latest, fourth generation Nissan Micra is a huge step-change from its dour predecessor, and a welcome return to form for the Japanese manufacturer. The latest European sales figures for the Micra suggest that consumers appreciate the new car, with sales over the past few months being almost twice as high as they were for the old model in 2016. A huge part of the new model’s appeal is its exterior styling – it is as bold as the third-generation model was shapeless. What’s more, it looks coherent even though the designers seem to have thrown every single design cues that’s trendy: strong character lines, creases, hidden rear door handles and a blacked-out C-pillar. Combined, they all give the Micra a look that’s unique in almost every way.

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US sales: September 2017, brands

The decline in the US car market finally halted in September, and not just by dint of the market barely crawling back into the black – growth was a sturdy 6.3%. It is not entirely clear what caused this reversal – was the market just making up for a disappointing summer performance, was it the fact that September’17 had one more selling day than September’16, or are there reasons to believe that this may be the end of a slide that seemed unstoppable even last month. Whatever the case, the SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) bounced back handily from 16.13 million in August to 18.58 million, exceeding all expectations for the month, and ranking as the highest value recorded since June 2005, when SAAR reached 20.64 million rate. Only time will tell if this renaissance will last, though.

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Volvo shows off the new XC40 [w/ poll]

Just yesterday Volvo finally took the wraps off its latest model, the new XC40. Aimed squarely at the premium compact SUV market, and models like the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Range Rover Evoque, the XC40 is the first all-new model line the Swedish automarker has introduced since it launched the XC60 in 2008. Seeing as the XC60 did rather well in the European (figures) and US (figures) markets, the question on everyone’s minds is: has Volvo done it again?

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Poll results: BMW Z4 Concept and VW T-Roc

A few weeks ago when the BMW Z4 Concept came out we asked you, our readers of what you thought of Munich’s latest creation. As you can see below, most everyone thought it was a genuine looker: exactly half of you thought it was gorgeous, while another 30% thought it looked great, but lacked a certain BMW-ness. So, not bad for BMW – now the challenge will be to turn the concept into a production model, which I’m a bit worried about given how the production 8-series looks to lose a lot of what made the 8-series Concept special (not least that hawkish nose).

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Look-a-like: Audi A8 and…

I think it’s fair to say that the design of the latest Audi A8 has met with a less-than-enthusiastic response. While most of the styling is not in any way ill-judged or controversial, people’s reactions instead fall into a few camps: “wasted opportunity” is a common one, “yawn” is another, while many detractors level the same criticism as they have leveled at most German limousines for the past two decades: “looks too much like the mid-sized saloon blown up by 30%”. While personally I fall into the “wasted opportunity”, there is an aspect of the A8’s styling which actually bothers me, and that is the oversized, chrome-lipped grille that, to add insult to injury, reminds me a of a much-less exclusive car…

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