New model introductions in China, January & February 2017

The Chinese car market is one of the most diverse in the world, with almost 500 locally produced passenger car models from more than 70 domestic and foreign brands, as you can see in our 2016 Chinese car sales analysis. If we include imported vehicles, minivans, pickups and commercial vehicles, there are more than 1.000 different models available. In the January 2017 Chinese car sales ranking, we welcome 6 new models: 5 SUVs and a sedan and in the February 2017 ranking, we welcome 4 new models: 2 crossovers, an MPV and a sedan. A few of these models haven’t officially been launched yet, but show up in the rankings due to demo sales.

Baojun 510

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Baojun_510-SUVBaojun has launched a second new model in six months time and this 510 crossover is one of its best looking designs, especially from the front, with its squinting headlights that are visually connected to the grille by a chrome line. The sharp crease running from headlight to taillight and through the door handles makes for an attractive side design, together with the floating roof and the squared off wheel arches, although it should ride a bit lower to reduce the huge gap between the wheels and the arches.. Surprisingly, while a lot of these characteristics are familiar from other brands (Citroën, DS, Suzuki, Range Rover), the combination still looks like an original design. In the interior Baojun also shows it’s one of the more mature brands among domestics, with attractive design: an 8-inch screen on top of the center console in Mercedes-Benz style, Mini-style toggle switches underneath it and lots of “metal” frames.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis February 2017

China-car-sales-graph-february-2017After a stable January, Chinese car sales rise a promising 20,2% again in February 2017. This is a result of the Chinese New Year festivities, which alternate between January and February each year, so it’s better to look at combined figures of these two months before drawing conclusions about the strength of the Chinese car market. Thanks to 1,59 million sales in February, combined volume for the first two months of the year is up 7,6% to 3,76 million. This is still stronger than most analysts had predicted, as expectations for the first quarter of 2017 were in the low single digits due to the rise on sales tax on vehicles with small engines. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate of 22,68 million is the lowest it’s been since last July, but still significantly up 12% from the 20,25 million of February 2016. SUVs and crossovers are unsurprisingly the main winners with sales up 36,9% to 644.750 units in February (first 2 months: +18,9% to 1.496.712), while sedans gain 15,3% to 772.555 sales (first 2 months: +4,2% to 1.857.478) and MPVs lose volume for the second month in a row at -3,9% to 167.076 (first 2 months: -10,2% to 393.533). Sales of New Energy vehicles (EVs and PHEVs) jumped 30% in February, following a 74% decline in January when electric car subsidies were reduced 20%. This month, domestic brands also reach a new record share of 46,5% in February, breaking the previous high of 45,4% last December. For the first two months combined, domestics have a 44,4% share of their home market, the highest it’s ever been at this stage of the year.… Continue Reading …

European car sales analysis January 2017 – models

Volkswagen_Tiguan-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeAfter discussing European car sales for January 2017 by brand, let’s check out what the model ranking looks like in the first month of 2017. The leader Volkswagen Golf has stabilized its decline and stays firmly in control, no surprises there. Behind it, the three subcompact cars are within 1.400 units of each other with the Ford Fiesta still ahead of the Renault Clio while the Volkswagen Polo is in fourth place this year. VW makes it 3 models in the top-5 thanks to the Tiguan, which is only 3.000 units off the #2 spot, the closest any crossover has ever been. The Opel/Vauxhall Astra is in 6th place ahead of the Peugeot 208, while the Nissan Qashqai remains the #2 crossover in Europe with its best January ever. That leaves the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa and Skoda Octavia to round up the top-10.… Continue Reading …

Geneva Autoshow 2017: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly production cars, part 1

It’s that time of the year again: everybody who’s somebody in the automotive industry can be found within just a few relatively small show floors at the Geneva Convention Center, where the cars are the real stars. The Geneva International Motor Show, as it’s officially called, is packed with new releases and world premieres every year and the 87th edition is no different. Of course is there too to feel the pulse of the industry and to get an idea of what’s going to be a hit and what’s going to flop. And as you’ve become used to from us, we have an opinion on the lastest launches and would like to know yours too. Which cars stir our senses, which ones need to go back to the drawing board and which are just plain mweh?

Alpine A110

Bart: hot

2017-Geneva_Auto_Show-Alpine_A110It’s always to see a brand with such a great heritage make a comeback, even if most car buyers may not even remember it, let alone have ever seen an Alpine in real life. Sure, in this segment brand value plays a great factor, but so does design and performance. The former is well taken care of in my opinion, the retro design with modern touches actually works on the A110. Performance promises to tick all the boxes as well thanks to its lightweight aluminium construction and 252hp on 1080kg is pretty impressive. Better than a Cayman? Hard to say, but at least it’s different. And I mean that in a good way.

Kriss: hot

I agree with Bart – it’s great to see Alpine make a comeback and challenge the Germano-Italian dominance of the segment. It looks great, and sports a great power-to-weight ratio thanks to its lightweight construction. In essence – I can’t imagine how this car could have turned out any better. But still I’m worried – many have tried and failed to provide a genuine challenge the Boxster/Cayman duo, and I’m afraid that no matter how good the A110 is, it’s not good enough to differentiate itself from the also-rans like the Alfa-Romeo 4C and Lotus Evora.

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European car sales analysis January 2017 – brands

European-car-sales-graph-January_2017The European car market continues its steady growth in 2017 as almost 1,19 million passenger cars were sold in January, an increase of 8,7% on the previous year and a 16% increase on 2015. Some of this gain can be attributed to additional business days so we’ll have to wait until the February data is published to see how the market develops at the start of 2017. On a positive note, 21 out of the 30 countries show double digit gains, including 4 out of the 5 major markets: Spain (+10,7%), France (+10,6%), Germany (+10,5%) and Italy (+10,1%) while the UK market grew at a more modest rate of +2.9%. Only 3 countries showed declines: Switzerland (-3,7%), Ireland (-1,8%) and Slovakia (-1,2%). Big loser of 2016 The Netherlands rebounds to become the big winner with sales up 27,1%.

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China car sales analysis January 2017

China-car-sales-graph-january-2017The Chinese car market was down 0,6% in January, which is actually surprisingly strong if you consider these two factors: January had five fewer selling days than in 2016 because of the timing of the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday, and the expected impact of the tax increase on cars with engines of 1,6 liters or less. These cars had received a tax cut from 10% to 5% since Q4 of 2015, which was increased to 7,5% in January before a next step back to 10% in 2018. Considering 72% of sales during this period were cars that qualified for the tax cut, the increase was expected to have a dimming effect on the market in the first quarter of this year. In that light, half a percent loss is not representative for the rest of the year, and doomsday thinkers will have to wait until February results before we can draw any conclusions about a slowing of demand in the worlds largest and fastest growing car markets. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate of 25,8 million is a fair indication the market is still healthy as it’s still 1,6 million higher than January last year. A total of 2,17 million locally produced passenger cars were sold in China in January, still the second best ever January by a large margin. Crossover and SUV sales were of course the strongest segment with 11% growth on last year to almost 881.000 units, while sedans lost 3% of their volume to 1,08 million sales. MPVs, which had shown steady growth until recently, decline a shocking 21% to just over 206.000 sales. Local brands had a 42,8% share of the market, which is lower than January last year and lower than December, but still higher than the 2016 full year figure.… Continue Reading …

European sales 2016 EV and PHEV segments


EV and PHEV sales in Europe have set another record in 2016, but the growth curve has significantly slowed, with just a 7% gain for battery electric cars and 17% for Plug-in hybrid cars, compared to an overall market up 6,2%. As a result, combined sales of all plug-in vehicles grew from 1,4% of the market in 2015 to 1,5% in 2016. While we hit the 100.000 annual sales milestone for PHEVs, EVs missed that target by just 2.500 units, as customers were waiting for the “next generation” EVs with longer range which arrived late 2016 (BMW i3) or early 2017 (Renault Zoe, VW e-Golf). Also, a number of governments, most notably Denmark and Sweden, have dialed back on their EV incentives in 2016 while Germany’s new EV and PHEV subsidy hasn’t made a big impact yet. In The Netherlands, an incentive on PHEV’s as company cars was cut in 2017 so that boosted deliveries of these vehicles in the last few months as customers wanted to benefit from the incentives before they ended. As a result, 2017 PHEV sales are expected to crash and burn in The Netherlands while EVs are expected to show healthy growth there because this will be the only type of vehicle to receive government incentives.

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European sales 2016 Exotic and Sports Car segments

Exotic_car-segment-European-sales-2016_Q2-Bentley_Continental_GT-Ferrari_488-Lamborghini_HuracanThe exotic car segment in Europe grew at double the overall market growth in 2016, at +12%, helped by a handful of new products. But the leader of the segment remains unchanged, even though the Bentley Continental GT gains just 5% and therefore loses 2 percentage point of share. In Q4, the Continental GT was even down a worrying 11,5%. The Ferrari 488 continues where its predecessor 458 Italia left off: in 2nd spot, ahead of chief rival Lamborghini Huracan, which also gains just 5%, but had a more positive Q4 at +64%. The Ferrari F12, about to be replaced by the 812 Superfast in 2017, almost doubles its sales in the fourth quarter to finish the year with a 31% gain. 2016 has been a great year for Italian V12 supercars, because Lamborghini Aventador does even better at +135% in the fourth quarter and +48% for the year.

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European sales 2016 Passenger Van segment

Passenger-van-segment-European-sales-2016_Q2-Volkswagen_T6-Fiat_Ducato-Mercedes_Benz_V_ClassThe large passenger van segment in Europe was very dynamic in 2016, with a handful of new models entering the segment and a 21% gain in overall sales to 200.000 units, as the entire top-5 showed double digit increases. The Volkswagen T6 Transporter/Multivan stays dominant with a third of all sales in this segment. Even if we combine sales of the Mercedes-Benz V-Class and Vito (as VW also does with its Multivan and Transporter, the luxury version and the basic version), the T6 would be 20.000 units ahead of its closest rival. The Fiat Ducato holds on to its podium spot thanks to strong sales in springtime, the high season for campervans, the bulk of Ducato sales. In Q4, the Fiat was in a distant 6th place with just a fifth of its volume in Q2. The V-Class gains 29% and was the clear #2 in the last quarter, and as mentioned above, would be in 2nd place for the year as well when combined with sister model Vito.

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European sales 2016 Premium Large SUV segment

Large_Premium_SUV-segment-European-sales-2016_Q2-BMW_X5-Volvo_XC90-Audi_Q7If you thought (or were hoping) the SUV-boom is going to end anytime soon, think again. Sales of the biggest and most expensive Off-roaders that hardly ever actually go off road rose by another 19% in 2016, which makes this the third consecutive year of double digit growth for the segment. That means in those three years European buyers have scooped up an additional 100.000 large premium SUVs annually to a total of almost 290.000 per year. If there was a clear and dominant leader the year before, in 2016 the #2 and #3 were within 10% of the leader. The BMW X5 still tops the charts but lost 3 percentage points of share as the competition has reloaded with fresh models. In fact, the X5 was in third place in Q4, behind the Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7, albeit by a tiny margin. The Swedish SUV is up 73% to take 2nd place while the Q7 gains 61% to move into 3rd place, both helped by their new generations which replace models that were first launched in 2002 and 2005 respectively. For the XC90 2016 also sets a new volume record, selling just 300 units more than in 2005.

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