BMW 1-series hatch going front-wheel drive [w/ poll]

Photo credit: CarScoops

We don’t usually devote much space to spy shots here at CarSalesBase, but in this instance I figured I’d make an exception given that it might lead to an interesting discussion. In particular, after years of speculations and anticipation, we finally have the first pictures of the third-generation 1-series hatchback, which unlike the first two generations will be primarily front-wheel drive.

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US sales: April 2017, brands

When we checked in last month, we suggested that 2017 is unlikely to exceed the record sales achieved in 2016. However, the performance of the market in April, with sales down 4.8% compared to April’16, suggests we should revise that prediction to “2017 is almost certainly not going to exceed the sales in 2016″, and may even fail to reach the level set in 2015 (so far YTD sales are 2.0% down on 2016, and 1.1% down on 2015). In fact, the sales slump in the past four months is the longest such period since the bottom of the market downturn in 2009. Just as last month, sales of mainstream models fell by 11%, but it was the fall in sales of trucks/SUVs (albeit only by 0.1%) that should have the markets worried – this is the first time sales of the latter fell since September 2013.

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US sales 2017-Q1 Alternative Power segment

Sales of Alternative Power cars in the United States increased a hopeful 47.2% in the first quarter of 2017 to 41,132 units, or 1% of the total US market. This is a combination of a 39.4% growth for EVs to 21,379 sales and a 56.7% growth for PHEVs to 19,753 sales. The EV segment is still slightly larger but the PHEV segment grows faster and is catching up, as especially luxury brands are entering this niche of the market before making a switch to full electric models. While regular (non-plug in) hybrids are struggling due to low gas prices, EVs and PHEV continue to benefit from Federal and State rebates that stimulate sales of these vehicles. And new entrants will keep arriving in showrooms this year, so expect the growth to continue.

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US sales 2017-Q1 Commercial Van segment

US large van segmentSales of Commercial Vans in the US are down 5.4% in the first quarter of 2017 to 103,197 units, but this decline is completely due to small commercial vans, as all of the 5 players in this sub-segment lose by double digits for a 25.4% loss (to 17,882 sales), compared to stable sales for large commercial vans at 85,315 units. Keep in mind, these figures include both cargo vans and passenger vans. Small vans quickly gained popularity after new players emerged since 2013, after the Ford Transit Connect paved the way since 2009. The segment peaked at over 90,000 sales in 2015 and 2016, but that appears to have been the ceiling for its potential, at least at the current level of gas prices, which means companies prefer the added practicality of large vans or even pickup trucks over the efficiency of smaller vans. The large van segment peaked at almost 372,000 sales last year, the highest volume in 28 years, and a stable start of the year is a signal of continued strength of and confidence in the US economy.… Continue Reading …

US sales 2017-Q1 Premium Small Sports segment


The Small Premium Sports segment accelerates its rate of decline as sales in the first quarter of 2017 are down by 11.6% to a mere 3,001 sales. In 2016, the smallest segment in the industry already shrank by 1.8%, despite a still very fresh line-up of contenders and three updated models: the facelifted Mercedes-Benz SLK, now renamed SLC, and the facelifted Porsche Boxster and Cayman, now renamed 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman. 2017 is expected to bring a new BMW Z5, co-developed with Toyota, which will launch its new Supra on the same platform, but I’m doubtful if that can turn the segment around, also because it’s unlikely to arrive in showrooms long before the end of the year.

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US sales 2017-Q1 Small Sports segment

US Small SportsThe Small Sports segment accelerates its decline in the first quarter of 2017 with a loss of 16.8% after already losing  6.5 percent in 2016. Sales of small sports cars dropped to 69,938 in Q1 as 9 out of the 13 models lost volume, of which 7 with double digits. The top-3 are the American muscle cars, which hold more than three quarters of the segment and they lose slightly faster than the rest of the segment. And keeping in mind sales of muscle cars have traditionally proven to be a bellwether for the entire US car market, this could be yet another indication that car sales have hit their peak. Hopefully the facelifted Ford Mustang can breathe some much-needed new life into the segment. The only other sports car news in 2017 will be the new Toyota Supra, co-developed by the Japanese brand with BMW.

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US sales 2017-Q1 Premium Large SUV segment

US Large Premium SUV
Sales growth in the Premium Large SUV segment slowed in the first quarter of 2017, with a gain of 4.9% to 142,801 sales. Subdivided in Large and Full-sized SUVs, we can conclude that almost all of the growth comes from the latter. While large SUVs gained 1.5% to 112,501 sales, the largest premium SUVs on the road increased their sales by 19.5% to 30,300 units. This is a similar trend as with mainstream crossovers and SUVs, where also the smallest (subcompact crossovers) and the largest (full-sized SUVs) were the fastest growing “truck” segments. This segment has seen quite a few new entrants and model updates in 2016, but won’t sit still this year either, so expect the winning streak to be extended to 8 years of consecutive growth. Combined, out of 24 players in this segment, only 9 lose volume, of which just 3 with double digits, compared to 7 double digit gainers.

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US sales 2017-Q1 Premium Mid-sized SUV segment

US premium mid-sized SUVSales in the Premium Mid-sized SUV segment rose by 12.5% in the first quarter of 2017, to top 101,497 units. That puts it just 7,000 units behind the premium midsized sedan segment which loses 2.1%. That shows the crossover segment continues its steady growth rate after already gaining close to 15% in 2016, as buyers are switching from sedans to crossovers and SUV, which in then attracts new models to the fast growing segment. The two new nameplates in the segment are storming up the charts, as well as a number of facelifted models, while there will be plenty of news again this year, with an all-new Volvo XC60 coming up in a few months, as well as the new generation BMW X3. Compared to the full year 2016, the entire top-6 is shuffled up, showing how this is one of the most dynamic and competitive segments, with 6 models challenging for the lead.… Continue Reading …

US sales 2017-Q1 Premium Compact SUV segment

US premium compact SUV 2Sales in the Premium Compact SUV segment in the US rose a very dynamic 39.2% in the first quarter of 2017, after already gaining 24.2% in 2016. Total sales in Q1 were 30,286 as only one model in the segment lost sales: the Mercedes-Benz GLA. With the new generation Mini Countryman in showrooms now, and the arrival of the Volvo XC40 by the end of the year (or perhaps early next year), the segment is bound to continue on this path of growth.


Highlights for Q1 2017

  • The new generations BMW X1 helps the nameplate hold on to the segment lead it already took for the full year 2016, after the model alreayd almost doubled its volume last year.
  • The Mercedes-Benz GLA was the segment leader in the first quarter of last year, but is now relegated into third place by the model that is developed on the same platform, using the same engines and even shares some interior components: the Infiniti QX30. The newcomer comes out of nowhere and lands in the segment #2 spot, not even that far behind the leader. In fact, the QX30 was still in startup mode in January, but outsold the X1 in February as well as March when it started to gain traction, so it has a real shot at leading this segment by the next quarter. By all means its 2nd place is already an impressive performance, especially considering no Infiniti model has ever been this high up in any segment, but also considering it outsells its platform rival from a much more established brand by a large margin.
  • In fourth place we find the steadily improving Audi Q3 with sales up 20.8%, even though that means it loses share of the segment as its growth rate is half that of the entire segment combined.
  • Mini_Countryman-2017-US-car-sales-statisticsThe fastest growing model in the segment is the Range Rover Evoque, helped by its facelift in 2016, as it is closing in on the Q3.
  • The Mini Countryman has just been replaced by the new generation, which started deliveries in March, so its Q1 result is not representative for its potential. Expect the Countryman to at least double its 2016 volume of 12.706 sales, which would make this year the nameplate’s best ever, and deservedly so, as the new generation has grown in size to better suit the needs of buyers in this segment.

Note: Clicking on the model name opens the sales data page for that model; clicking year in the legend turns the display for that year on/off

US sales 2017-Q1 Limousine segment

US limousine segmentThe Limousine segment is the only premium car segment to grow in volume in the first quarter of 2017, and one of only two car segments overall, together with the Minicar segment, on the opposite side of the scale. A total of 12,959 limousines were sold in Q1 for a gain of 6.5% on the same period last year. However, just two models in this segment show growth, both newcomers, while the other ten are losing volume, of which eight with double digits. In fact, if it weren’t for the new Cadillac CT6 and Genesis G90 the segment would halve lost 18.8%. This year we’ll see a few more models renewed, with the second generation Porsche Panamera already in showrooms since March, to be followed by the next generations of the Lexus LS and Audi A8. These should help the segment maintain its positive figure for the rest of the year, together with the still fresh BMW 7-Series. Whatever happens, it’s unlikely the dominant leader of this segment is going to give up its position anytime soon.

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