US sales: September 2015, Brands

Sales of cars in September 2015 were up by a whopping 16% compared to September 2014, an incredible rise given that they only grew by 4% between the first half of 2014 and 2015. Since sales in the US are cyclical by calendar year it’s hard to imagine this growth is driven by any particular effort on behalf of the manufacturers to move more metal off the forecourts. Rather, it’s probably a result of continually improving economic conditions, low gas price and, possibly more than most, people wanting to take advantage of low lease rates before the Federal Reserve Board raises interest rates later this year.

VW Passat Clean Diesel

VW Passat “Clean” Diesel

The question on everyone’s mind must be “how much was VW hurt by Dieselgate”? The answer is that it does not seem to have been hurt badly at all, with sales actually growing by 1%. Sure, that’s much worse than the market on average, but it’s not like VW was gaining sales before the scandal hit anyway. The fact is it may take time for the sales figures to fully reflect the extent of the damage – October will give us a better look.

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US sales 2015 first half Alternative Power segment

US Alternative PowerSales in the Alternative Power segment fell by 12% compared to the first half of 2014, one of the larger drops from among all segments. In fact, only three cars sold more in the first half of 2015 than in the same period last year – Tesla Model S and BMW’s i3 and i8. This fall in sales most likely is driven by the continuing low gasoline price, as well as the expectation that this situation may continue for a long time.

Toyota Prius 2016

Toyota Prius Mk IV

You don’t get points for guessing the market leader – the Toyota Prius has dominated this segment ever since the second generation came to the American shores in 2004. However, while the introduction of the V (quasi-MPV, albeit not available in the US with 7 seats for some reason, unlike in Europe) and C (smaller model) helped the Prius to its best showing in 2012, when almost a quarter million Prius cars were sold in the US, 2015 seems like it will be the first time since then that the Prius will sell fewer than 200,000 units. I guess customers are waiting for the new model, but you have to wonder if the awkwardly-styled Mk IV is everything they were hoping for…… Continue Reading …

US sales 2015 first half Exotics segment

US ExoticsThe Exotics segment grew by 5% compared to the first half of 2014, roughly in line with the whole industry. The problem with the headline figure is that it encompasses the whole of the Maserati brand, none of which are arguably exotic, but end up here because Maserati is the largest brand that does not break out their sales in the US.

So, excluding Maserati, the largest Exotic brand remains Bentley with over 1,200 sales in H1 2015 – even the 8% fall year-on-year was not bad for what is arguably a rather aged line-up by now. Still, it is reasonable to expect the sales figure to shoot up like crazy in a year or so when the Beluga… sorry, Bentayga goes on sale. For now, though, the brand was almost caught in sales terms by Ferrari, which is on course to go even better than its 2014 record of over 2,000 units sold in one year. The prancing horse is certainly doing better in the US than its main rival Lamborghini, who recorded less than half as many sales and lies in 5th despite a healthy 11% growth following the introduction of the Huracan.… Continue Reading …

Tesla debuts Model X, forgets to remove masking tape… [w/ Poll]

 

Tesla Model XTesla finally debuted the production version of the Model X, following what seems like years of teasing, “concepts” and unmasked testers driving around. So imagine my surprise when the final product, well, surprised me, though unfortunately not for the right reasons – it seems someone forgot to remove masking tape from the front…… Continue Reading …

US sales 2015 first half Large Sports segment

US Sports Large

The Large Sports segment in the US stayed pretty much the same size as it was in the first half of 2014 – it did not fall but it did not rise either, broadly reflecting the composition of the marketplace – most cars are recent enough, a few are new and a few are on the way out. As a mature segment it is also likely to stay like that in the forthcoming future, although there are a few notable new models just around the corner: Audi A8, Mercedes-Benz S-Class coupe and the Porsche 911 facelift. … Continue Reading …

US sales 2015 first half Small Premium Sports segment

US Small Sports Premium

The Small Premium Sports segment shrank by 20% compared to the first half of 2014, the largest drop from amongst all segments. This is a very surprising outcome, as this segment is full of attractive cars that aren’t all that old, plus one would think that in a recovering economy fun-to-drive and cool-to-be-seen-in cars would do well. It seems not… While part of the decline is due to the Audi TT being pulled from the market in preparation for the new model, the fact is all cars in this segment experienced a drop in sales, bar for the new Alfa Romeo 4C.… Continue Reading …

US sales 2015 first half Small Sports segment

US Small Sports

The Small Sports segment grew by 14% compared to the first half of 2014, a much better performance than either the Large Sports or Small Premium Sports segments, which did not grow and shrank by 20%, respectively. The headline statistic is deceiving, however, as all the growth came from two cars, with sales of the other cars in the segment shrinking quite a bit. It is clear, though, that a large part of the segment is made up from cars which are quickly aging or about to be replaced, and so I would not be surprised if the growth picked up even more in the next year with the release of the new MX-5 and Camaro.… Continue Reading …

Should this be the next Bugatti? (with Poll)

I came across this amazing design by Alexander Imnadze and it got me thinking: shouldn’t Bugatti really be thinking about producing a real GT car rather than simply updating the Veyron into the Chiron? The problem with a brand like Bugatti that produces tiny number of cars is that, once you’ve all but saturated the market for hypercars with a model like they Veyron, can they really hope to sell as many Chirons?

Bugatti Type-6 GT Vision

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Random thought: is a unified design important?

Ford SUV lineup

This add popped up while I was browsing around this morning, and made me think whether it is important to have a unified brand design which is represented in all your products. Take this Ford SUV line-up as an example. You have the compact, swoopy (relatively, of course) Escape with a 4-piece grille, the angry-looking Edge sporting Ford’s toughened-up Aston / Audi-inspired SUV grille, the Explorer whose design was meant to mimic the Range Rover and its perforated grille, and the old-fashioned, ladder framed Expedition sporting the simple grille that used to be the staple of Ford SUVs. Four models, four different looks. But is that a bad thing, necessarily?

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New US Honda Civic tries to recapture old glory (w/ POLL)

Honda Civic

Earlier this week Honda revealed the new Civic model for the US market. The new model follows closely the template set by the concepts shown earlier this year, and marks a big shift in the design philosophy for the model. Whereas previous generations were very much made-to-cost conservative 4-door saloons, the new model looks like a more serious effort, with styling which makes it look more like a 5-door hatchback or, whisper it, a 4-door coupe. … Continue Reading …