New model introductions in China, December 2016

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 December 2016 China car sales ranking, we welcome 10 new models: 5 SUVs, 2 sedans, one MPV and an EV, including a new brand, the fifth domestic new brand this year (offsetting the demise of 3). As a bonus, I’ll also throw in an interesting 11th model which isn’t entirely new (it’s been on sale since July), but for which we didn’t have sales figures available yet.

Soueast DX3

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Soueast_DX3-SUVSoueast Motors, a joint venture of Fujian Auto, CMC of Taiwan and Mitsubishi, has struggled to reach sustainable volume in its home market, as its line-up of sedans based on out-of-production Mitsubishi cars failed to keep up with rising demands of Chinese car buyers. That changed in 2015 when the brand launched its first crossover DX7 Bolang, which was designed with the help of Italy’s famous design house Pininfarina, and which immediately became the brand’s best selling model with more than three quarters of total brand sales. In December, that model was accompanied by a smaller crossover called DX3, which also was co-designed by Pininfarina. In its first month of sales, the DX3 immediately outsold its larger sibling and the two crossovers took a combined 92,5% of Soueast volume, a very promising start for the newcomer that’s intended to double the brand’s sales in this year after topping 100.000 sales for the first time ever in 2016.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis 2016

China-car-sales-graph-2003-2016For years, analysts have predicted a slowdown of Chinese car sales. After becoming the world’s largest market in 2013, outpacing the United States, it was believed the market could not sustain its impressive growth record. Then halfway through 2015, the critics finally appeared to find reality on their side, when Chinese stock markets suddenly crashed and the economy stalled. Add to that a government crackdown on corruption and the recipe for a slowdown in car sales was ready. However, the central government stepped in and lowered the sales tax for vehicles with engines of 1,6 liters or smaller from 10% to 5%, starting from Q4 of 2015. That helped car sales peak recover and 2015 set yet another sales record of over 20 million passenger car sales. In 2016, the tax break continued and the market grew further, adding another 17% to 23,6 million sales.

Country of origin

  2016 Change 2016 Share 2015 Share
Domestic +27,4% 41,4% 38,1%
European +9,8% 22,4% 23,9%
Japanese +11,5% 16,0% 16,8%
US +13,9% 12,5% 12,9%
Korean +6,7% 7,6% 8,3%

60% of the growth came from domestic brands, as 9,8 million of the 23,6 million sales bore a badge from a Chinese brand, a record 41,4% of the total market. The previous record was 38,1% in 2015, which means local brands added 3,3 percentage points of share in a single year. Chinese brands increased their sales by 27,4%, more than double the growth rate of any of the other countries, as all saw their shares reduced. European brands took the biggest hit, losing 1,5 percentage points of market share to 5,3 million sales, with PSA Peugeot-Citroën as the biggest cause of concern. The American brands did best of the rest, losing just 0,4 percentage point of share to 2,96 million sales. Japanese brands sold 3,8 million cars in China in 2016 and South Korean brands sold 1,8 million units. All figures are for locally produced models only and exclude imports, which make up just 5% of the Chinese car market.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis December 2016

China-car-sales-graph-december_2016It’s only fitting to see the Chinese car market end 2016 with yet another sales record broken: for the first time in history, more than 2,6 million cars were sold in the People’s Republic in a single month. To put this in perspective: this is almost as many cars as were sold in the UK in all of 2016, and over 900.000 units or 54% more than the 1,69 million cars US auto dealers sold in December, both figures are also records by the way. In relative terms, December’s 9,3% growth rate was the smallest since April and only the third time in 2016 the Chinese car market grew by less than double digits. Part of the explanation for this is that December 2015 was already a monster month, but still the Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Selling Rate came in at 25,1 million units, lower than the 3 months prior, reflecting December is traditionally the biggest selling month for Chinese car dealers. The sales tax break from 10% to 5% on vehicles with engines smaller than 1,6 liters which has fueled the market since October 2015 and which had been anticipated to be cut for 2017 will be phased out slowly to soften the blow next year. In 2017 these vehicles will incur a 7,5% sales tax before going back to 10% in 2018. Still, a more moderate growth rate is expected for 2017, especially in the first quarter. Then again, this is what experts have been predicting for a few years now, and somehow the market keeps proving them wrong.… Continue Reading …

Predictions for 2017: China

We’ve discussed the 2016 success stories and disappointments of the Chinese car market, now we’ll focus on our expectations for 2017, like we’ve done for Europe. Looking ahead, even one year, can be very tricky. Last year we predicted EVs and PHEVs in China to continue their boom. From January to November 2016 sales of New Energy vehicles increased 102% in a market up 18%, to 282.292 units, including 41.796 in November alone. Pure electric car sales were the bulk of that volume with 208.839 units, an increase of 145%, while plug-in hybrid sales increased 35% to 73.453 units. And the good news is that although electric minicars/citycars still make up the bulk of China’s pure EV sales (62,2%), the real growth comes from the compact EV segment with sales up almost 9-fold. We also predicted two disappointments for 2016: DS and Volkswagen. DS was a no-brainer and you can read in our disappointments article, and for Volkswagen we said it would have to get used to single digit growth but the brand has shown remarkable resilience and has managed to grow 12,7% through November. While that’s still slower than the overall market, keep in mind the brand has completely missed the crossover hype in the same way PSA has, but it sedan-heavy line-up has continued to sell well. VW has launched 3 new nameplates in 2016: the Sportsvan has outsold its rival BMW 2-Series by almost 3-to-1, the Phideon is more of an image booster than a volume model at 800 monthly sales, but the C-Trek is the most promising with 5.600 sales in its first month.

1. Jeep: success

Jeep_Compass-China-2017Like DS was last year, Jeep is a no-brainer here. The American SUV brand could easily have been mentioned among our success stories of 2016, as it has sold well over 100.000 units in its first year of local production in China, peaking at over 16.000 sales in November with its two models: Cherokee and Renegade. That puts the brand ahead of Cadillac, which did get a mention as one of the most successful brands in China last year.… Continue Reading …

Disappointments of 2016: China

A new year is always a nice opportunity to reflect on the past year and in our case, that means looking at which cars have sold disappointingly in 2016 in China. We’ve already covered the surprises and disappointments in Europe as well as the surprises and disappointments in the US and the Chinese success stories of 2016, now let’s take a look at the Chinese disappointments. We’ll make our predictions for 2017 in a separate article. In a market that has grown 18% in the first 11 months of the year, it should be hard to find true losers, but still there are a few. I won’t even mention the biggest loser of all: Fiat with sales down 58,6% because the Italian brand simply isn’t relevant in China, with just 0,06% market share.

1. PSA

Auto-sales-statistics-China-DS_4S-hatchbackLast year, we predicted Peugeot-Citroën’s luxury brand DS would be on this list. And even though it was already down in volume last year, DS managed to underwhelm even our lowest expectations for 2016. In its third full year of sales, it’s down for the second consecutive year, and not by a small margin: -22,5% through November. None of its models has improved on last year, and its latest launch DS 4S has failed miserably with just 1.435 sales in 9 months, peaking at 276 sales in September. Whoever thought launching a premium hatchback in China would be a great idea deserves to be fired on the spot. Then again, the DS6 crossover is also down 22,5% but still by far the brand’s best selling model.

Sadly for the French, DS is not their only brand to suffer from poor product planning, and a lack of new products: Peugeot‘s only new model has arrived too late to make a mark, the 4008 (also known as the new generation 3008 in Europe) started sales in the fourth quarter and couldn’t prevent the French brand from losing 17,1% through November in a market up 18,8%.… Continue Reading …

Success stories of 2016: China

A new year is always a nice opportunity to reflect on the past year and in our case, that means looking at which cars have sold surprisingly well China in 2016 and which do we expect to surprise in 2017. We’ll also look at which cars or brands have disappointed from a sales volume point of view in a separate article. Click the following links to check back on last year’s surprises or disappointments. Also find our success stories for 2016 in the US and Europe and our predictions for China in 2017.

1. Domestic crossovers

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Borgward_BX7-SUVI’m short of superlatives to describe how sales of domestic brand crossovers in China have exploded in 2016. More than 5 million domestic Chinese crossovers were sold in the first 2016, that’s more than the entire car markets of Germany and Spain combined! In a market up 17%, crossovers and SUVs from Chinese brands increased their sales by 50,6%. In comparison: sales of import brand crossovers increased 29%, faster than the overall market but just over half the growth rate of their domestic rivals. This also means that the share of Chinese brands in the crossover segment grew to 57,4%, much higher than their share of the overall market, which also grew to an all-time high of 37,3%. The share of domestic brand crossovers and SUVs in the overall market grew from 16,3% in 2015 to 21,4% in 2016. The cause of this impressive surge? A flood of hot new models, aimed directly at the needs and desires of the Chinese new car buyer, with prices so low import brands can’t match them and ever-improving design and quality, both exterior and interior, and most equipped with ever-larger infotainment touch screens on top of the center console. No less than 29 new nameplates were introduced in the first 11 months of 2016, of which 3 from all-new brands: Borgward, SWM and Hanteng.

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Predictions for 2017: Europe

Looking ahead, even one year, can be very tricky. Last year we correctly predicted that Mercedes-Benz had a shot at reclaiming its luxury crown, and it has overperformed. We also said the Jaguar F-Pace would be off to a great start, and that too has materialized nicely: having been launched in Q2 of 2016, Jaguar’s first crossover has outsold the Porsche Macan and BMW X4 in the second half of the year and has outsold the Lexus NX for full-year sales, grabbing a segment 7th place in H2, which is similar to the XE and not bad for a brand’s first entry into a segment that has very strong competition not only from new launches but also from surprisingly consistent old-timers.

Infiniti_Q30-QX30-sales-disappointment-Europe-2016In terms of expected disappointments, we predicted Ford would lose its #2 position in the brand ranking, and that happened in November when Renault stormed past in the YTD ranking. We also said Dacia would lose volume in 2016, but that didn’t materialize as expected. The French-Romanian brand has shown remarkable resilience as four out of its five models improved volume in 2016, despite no big new product launches, just minor updates. An impressive performance! Lastly, we doubted Infiniti’s ambitious targets for the Q30 and QX30, and although the latter is still in start-up mode, it’s safe to say the Q30 hasn’t really taken off as its parent had hoped it would. Sure, around 9.000 sales (8.391 through November) is by far the best any Infiniti model has ever sold in Europe (the next best being the Q50’s 2015 figure of just over 3.000 units), but it’s not even close to the European target of 30.000 annual sales for the two models combined.

Now, what do we expect from 2017?… Continue Reading …

Disappointments of 2016: Europe

A new year is always a nice opportunity to reflect on the past year and in our case, that means looking at which cars have sold disappointingly in 2016. We’ve already looked at which cars or brands have surprised in 2016 from a sales volume point of view in a separate article, as well as successes and disappointments in the US.

1. Jaguar XE

Jaguar_XE-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeWhen Jaguar launched the XE in 2015, expectations were high, as this was Jaguar’s second attempt at the premium midsized segment, and arguably a much better attempt than the first try: the X-Type. A lot has been critisized about the X-Type: it was too much Ford Mondeo, had too conservative styling and it was an utter failure. About that last point: they sold over 400.000 of them worldwide, half of which in Europe, over a 9-year life cycle. The model sold almost 31.000 units in its first full year of sales 2002 and peaked at 38.500 sales in 2004 in a segment 5th place behind the German Big-3 and Volvo. Now keep in mind the segment was a bit larger at the time, so let’s translate it to 3,1% of the segment in its first full year and 4,5% of the segment in its peak. 2016 was the first full year of sales for the XE and it took a segment share of 3,5%, slightly better than its supposedly failed predecessor 14 years earlier. It also took just 7th place of the segment, but that’s because Audi and BMW have separated their coupe and convertible models from the sedan and wagon versions. Jaguar is still best of the rest behind the Germans and Volvo. One could argue the F-Pace crossover may be cannibalizing, but there’s hardly any overlap in price between those two models, and a counterargument could be that the F-Pace is raking in extra attention to the brand and drawing people into its showrooms who may not have known about the XE otherwise. In its defense: there’s no station wagon version of the XE available (yet). So at first glance not a huge success, but nor is the XE’s first full year a clear-cut disappointment, then why is it on this list? Well, for one because it lost year-over-year volume in every month of the second half of the year, which is not a promising sign for a model in only its first full year of sales, and secondly because it was outsold by the Alfa Romeo Giulia in November and likely in December too, again not a great sign of what’s to come for the XE.

Continue Reading …

Success stories of 2016: Europe

A new year is always a nice opportunity to reflect on the past year and in our case, that means looking at which cars have sold surprisingly well in 2016 and which do we expect to surprise in 2017. We’ll also look at which cars or brands have disappointed from a sales volume point of view in a separate article. Click the following links to check back on last year’s surprises or disappointments.

1. Skoda Superb

The third generation Superb has been an instant hit, breaking all records of its predecessors. In 2016 alone, approximately 86.000 Superbs were sold (79.200 through November), one sixth of its cumulative total of 518.000 European sales in 15 years and three generations. The Superb has improved with every generation: the first generation, which basically a long wheelbase Volkswagen Passat with a Skoda grille, sold an average of 15.500 annual units during its 7-year long career. The second generation with the double trunklid took the model to the next level with an average of 46.200 annual sales in its equally long career, peaking at 56.000 in 2011. But when the third generation launched in 2015 the Superb achieved new heights: its previous annual record has been smashed by 50% and for the first time the nameplate took 2nd place in the midsized segment, behind the Passat but comfortably ahead of segment mainstays like the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia and Ford Mondeo. All on the same recipe as before: value for money, conservative styling, and above average interior room.

Car_sales_surprise-2016-skoda_superb

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European car sales analysis November 2016 – models

Renault_Megane-2016-European-sales-estimateAfter analysing European car sales for November 2016 by brand, let’s check out what the model ranking looks like. The Renault Clio celebrates its best November ever in 2nd place behint the traditional leader Volkswagen Golf, and ahead of its segment rivals Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta. The Opel/Vauxhall Astra is in 5th place for the second month in a row, followed by the Skoda Octavia, also with its best November ever. The Volkswagen Tiguan drops a position on last month, but celebrates its fourth straight month in the European top-10, while the Renault Captur is the 2nd best selling crossover in the continent, back in the top-10 for the first time since June, with – you guessed it – its best November ever. The same goes for the Nissan Qashqai by the way, right behind the Captur in 11th place. The Fiat Panda hits its best ranking since February in 12th place while its sibling Fiat 500 is down in 29th place. The Renault Megane (#14) doubles up its volume of last year and outsells the Peugeot 308 (#20) for the first time since June 2014 and the Ford Focus (#15) for the first time since December 2012. The Opel/Vauxhall Mokka (#21) outsells its rival Peugeot 2008 (#22) for only the third time this year, with the Dacia Duster (#25) not far behind.

For the first time since exactly one year ago, the Renault Kadjar (#33) outsells both the Kia Sportage (#36) and the Ford Kuga (#48), and the all-new Peugeot 3008 crossover also beats those two in 35th place.… Continue Reading …