US sales 2017 first half: Premium Compact segment

Segment down 22% in Q2, oldest 2 models perform bestUS premium compact

The Premium Compact segment was the fastest declining segment in the US car market in the first quarter with sales down 27%, and the situation only gets worse with a 31% decline in Q2. That brings the first half figure to just 42.519 units, down 29% on the same period in 2016, which means it remains the fastest declining segment in the US so far this year. The main culprit for this demise is the premium compact crossover segment, which grows 27% in the first half of the year and becomes larger in volume than the regular sedans, hatchbacks and station wagons. Only two out of the 8 players in the segment show single-digit growth in Q2, while all others lose volume by at least 25%. These two happen to be the oldest of the bunch, as the Lexus CT200h has been on the market virtually unchanged since 2011 and the Mercedes-Benz B-Class was first launched that same year, even though sales in the US only started in 2014 as an electric-only model.

Even with the addition of the Infiniti QX30 the segment would be deep in the red. The Qx30 is marketed as a crossover, while in fact it’s really just a hatchback. Then again, following the same reasoning the Mercedes-Benz GLA should be classified as a hatchback as well, so we’re not sure how to classify it. We’re interested in what our readers have to say about this matter. In Europe, it is sold under two different names for both segment: the Q30 hatchback and QX30 crossover, even though the only distinction between the two is the higher ground clearance of the latter. In the US, the Q30 is sold as the QX30 Sport, but Infiniti does not specify the take rate on that version, which would have made things a bit easier for us. For now, we’ll display it here for reference (it would instantly have become the segment leader), but keep it officially in the small SUV segment. 

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US sales 2017 first half: Large SUV segment

Despite slowdown in Q2, full-sized SUVs the fastest growing mainstream segment, GM still dominant

US SUV Large

The Large SUV segment stalled in the second quarter with a sales decrease of 1%. However, Q1 volume was so good that the segment is still the fastest growing mainstream segment in the US with an increase of 11% to 157,084 units. And though that may seem like a lot, remember that 15 years ago GM alone sold more than half a million units of its Chevy and GMC full-sized SUVs in a full year. In Q2, all but one of the models in this segment lost volume, but 5 out of the 8 nameplates are still in the positive for the first half. The all-new Nissan Armada is the fastest growing model in the segment by far and the only nameplate in the positive for Q2, followed by the Ford Expedition, even before the all-new generation arrives in showrooms this fall

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US sales 2017 first half: Mid-sized SUV segment

US-sales-midsized_SUV-segment-2016-Kia_Sorento-Chevrolet_Traverse-Ford_Explorer-Dodge_Durango-Nissan_Pathfinder-Honda_Pilot-Toyota_HighlanderSales in the Mid-sized SUV segment increased by 9.5% in the first half of 2017, an improvement on the 4.4% gain the segment experienced in 2016. What’s more, the absolute volume of 952,645 put the segment once again within spitting distance of the mid-sized car segment, underlying how the market has shifted in favor of crossovers in the past two decades. That said, 2017 does not seem like the year that mid-sized crossovers overtake the mainstream cars, for while there is plenty of new metal coming to the market (Buick EnclaveChevrolet TraverseGMC Acadia and VW Atlas), none of these models are likely to trouble the segment leaders or add that greatly to the segment total.… Continue Reading …

US sales 2017 first half: Compact SUV segment

US-sales-compact_SUV-segment-2016-Subaru_Forester-Nissan_Rogue-Chevrolet_Equinox-Mazda_CX5-Honda_CRV-Toyota_RAV4-GMC_Terrain

Sales in the Compact SUV segment grew at a leisurely 1.4% pace in the second quarter of 2017, a step down from the rate of growth the segment enjoyed in the first quarter (7.8%). Taken together, the segment grew at an average 4.4% in the first half of the year, a much better performance than the market as a whole (sales fell 2.3% overall), but still a slower rate of growth than the other three non-premium SUV segments, all of which grew at around 10%. Still, the segment is assured in its utter dominance of the market, and its sales of over 1.5 million in the first half of the year are 36% higher than in the next-largest segments: compact car and large pickup. What’s more, with a raft of new models either already on the market (Honda CR-VChevrolet Equinox, Mazda CX-5Jeep CompassKia Niro) or hitting the market in the next few months (GMC Terrain, Subaru XV Crosstrek, VW Tiguan) it would take a brave person to bet against the segment continuing to thrive in 2017.

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US sales 2017 first half: Subcompact SUV segment

Segment no longer enjoying rocket growth, but new models can be expected to lift sales in the second half of the year

US-car-sales-subcompact-crossover-segment-2016-Q1

After registering the fastest rate of growth from among all non-premium SUV segments for the past four years, the subcompact SUV segment has been locked in a tight battle so far this year. As it stands, with 10.6% of growth in the first half of the year, the segments falls right in between the mid-sized SUV segment (9.5% growth) and the large SUV segment (11.1% growth). With the new Toyota C-HR making waves, the still relatively new Honda HR-V gaining sales at a fair clip, and the Hyundai Kona and Kia Stonic joining the party, it is reasonable to expect the segment will, just about, come out top by the year’s end.

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US sales 2017 first half: Minivan segment

Chrysler Pacifica takes second spot but still lags some way behind “rental special” Dodge Grand Caravan

US-sales-minivan-segment-2016-Honda_Odyssey-Toyota_Sienna-Kia_Sedona-Nissan_Quest-Dodge_Grand_CaravanThe Minivan segment in the US continued its decline in the second quarter of 2017, and so far has seen total sales decline by 12.9% in 2017 to a total 264,237. However, with the Chrysler Pacifica hitting its stride, and the new Honda Odyssey about to go on sale, things may look up for the segment in the second half of the year.

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US sales 2017 first half: Large segment

Collapse of the Large segment continues, as fewer cars were sold in the first half of ’17 than in the first two months of ’06US large segmentSales in the Large car segment fell by 17.8% in the second quarter of the year, meaning YTD sales are still below 200,000 units – this is a huge tumbledown for a segment that used to sell more than that in two months a decade ago. With only two new model entering the market in 2017 (Buick LaCrosse and Kia Cadenza), no other new cars on the immediate horizon, and suggestions that Ford may abandon the market altogether and not replace the Taurus, the signs are that the segment will continue its tumble down the rankings.… Continue Reading …

US sales 2017 first half: Mid-sized segment

Only Outback and Passat see their sales rise, five models lose more than 20% since 2016

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Sales of Mid-sized cars in the US fell by 13.7% in the second quarter of 2017, following the same path of double-digit sales decline as all the other mainstream segments bar the compact segment. With one-time top non-pickup models like Toyota CamryHonda Accord and Nissan Altima now regularly giving way to crossovers in the monthly top rankings, it is far from clear whether the latest versions of the first two cars, which made their debut earlier this year, will be enough to even halt, let alone reverse this trend. One thing is for sure: they will need to do better than recent new models in the segment – Hyundai SonataKia Optima and  Chevrolet Malibu –  all of which have really underperformed relative to their previous generations.

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US sales 2017 first half: Compact segment

Compact segment lost more than 11%, as only 4 out of top-10 improve US-sales-compact_car-segment-2016-Chevrolet_Cruze-Honda_Civic-Nissan_Sentra-Hyundai_Elantra-Mazda3

The Compact Car segment accelerates its decline with a 14% loss in Q2 of 2017, which leads to a 11% decline in the first half to 1,704,812 sales. This is still the lowest decline of all mainstream sedan segments. The top-3 players, the Japanese elephants in the room, which take a combined 26.6% share of the segment, all improve their share of the segment as they fall with just single digits. There are two more models to sell over 100,000 units in the first half: the Chevrolet Cruze and the Hyundai Elantra, while the Ford Focus dips below that threshold. Two electrified newcomers are off to a shy start.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Summer 2017 [w/ poll]

After each motor show Bart and I put together our thoughts on the latest debuts, looking at them from the perspective of someone who’s passionate about motoring, but also trying to peer into our crystal balls and see whether each model will be a market success or a dud. This time, though, we’re running the article off-season, following a period of a few weeks when a few crucial cars made their debut.

Audi A8

Kriss: so-so

To me the new Audi A8 is a very frustrating car, because there is so much here that is interesting and truly cutting-edge, and yet the end product is not that you would call a “slam dunk”. On the plus side, the new car will offer the possibility (key phrase, will come back to that latter) of Level 3 autonomous driving, it features a top-drawer mechanical setup with a fully-hybridized engine lineup, a new design direction and, as always, a stunning interior with a world-first feature… the foot massager for rear passengers. OK, so that last things is a bit of a joke, but you sort of have the feeling that they threw the kitchen sink at the A8 to make it stand out against the 7-series and S-Class. But it’s not whether they’ve done enough, it’s whether they did it well enough that has me worried for this model. And so, the much vaunted “new design direction” amounts to little else than, at the risk of oversimplification, some extra creases, a super-wide front grille and a car-wide LED strip at the back. The interior is also a mixed bag: it features some really bold shapes and touch-screen controls that appear to be as good as it gets, yet overall it’s hard to escape the feeling that it all feels like a Passat Plus Plus. And to top it off the claim of Level 3 autonomy is misleading – yes, the car has the capability to do it, but right now no country will allow it, so in effect you’re buying tech you can’t (yet) use. 

Bart: so-so

I have to agree with Kriss on this, the A8 has never reached the same status as its two German rivals, even though the Audi brand as a whole has moved up to par with Mercedes-Benz and BMW, and even though every generation has been up there from a technology perspective. As Kriss explained, this won’t change with the new generation, which will go further in autonomous technology than any other car has ever gone so far, although there is one way in which the new A8 appears to take a (small) step back: ever since the first generation, the A8 has prided itself on its Aluminium Space Frame which reduced weight in order to compensate for the A8’s standard all-wheel drive technology compared to the rear-wheel drive setup of its competitors. In the outgoing generation, 92% of the bodyshell was made of aluminium, but this will be reduced to just 58% in the new generation, increasing the weight of its body from 230kg (509 lb) to 281kg (621 lb), even despite the use of some carbon fiber for the rear seat back. This is the result of steel offering better crash protection for the batteries of the plug-in hybrid version. In terms of design, the A8 makes a larger step from its predecessor than Audi’s recent launches A4, A5 and Q5, but Audi remains very conservative in a segment where buyers are more open to daring design than you’d expect (p.e. BMW 7-Series E65, Porsche Panamera).

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