The 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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A few weeks ago, when we were looking at which cars were leading their segments in Europe in 2016, one of our readers wondered how the market as a whole has evolved over the past decades: which segments have grown and which have decreased and what trends are visible in the market? As it turns out, the total market volume in 2016 is actually very comparable to that of 2001, as the European car market had a size of just over 15 million sales both last year and 15 years ago. Of course, in the meantime there have been great fluctuations, as the market peaked at over 16 million in 2004 and then crashed to just 12,3 million in 2013, and also between the segments there have been shifts in the period between then and now. But overall there’s a clear trend visible: mainstream brands have stagnated while luxury brands have floundered, MPVs made a brief successful run in the first half of the 2000’s, but since then it’s been all about crossovers and SUVs, while regular cars have been down across the board. So let’s take a more in-depth look at the trends we can see happening for the past 15 years.
After discussing European car sales for February 2017 by brand, let’s check out what the model ranking looks like in the second month of 2017. Traditional leader Volkswagen Golf continues its double digit decline after a stable January. Besides its facelift, which still has to pick up steam, the Golf is hurt by increased competition from the Opel/Vauxhall Astra and Renault Megane, but also by increased internal competition from the new Tiguan and Seat Ateca. The Renault Clio continues to improve and reclaims the 2nd spot it held in 2016, ahead of the VW Polo and Ford Fiesta, two models that are due to be replaced this year. For the first time since last September the Nissan Qashqai is the best selling crossover in Europe again, and for the first time since last August there’s only one crossover in the top-10. The Fiat Panda hits its highest ranking in 7 years with a 6th place, ahead of the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa and Peugeot 208. The Astra is down into 9th place despite still growing almost 10%, and it remains the #2 compact car ahead of the Skoda Octavia. The Volkswagen Tiguan is out of the top-10 for the first time since last July despite being the fastest growing model in the top-25. … Continue Reading …
After a promising start of the year with an almost 10% gain in January, European car sales disappoint in February with a gain of just 2,2% to just over 1,1 million units, still the highest February volume since pre-crisis 2008. The big difference in January vs. February growth can be attributed to the number of business days, which were higher in January 2017 and lower in February, compared to the previous year. A better indication of the strength of the European car market would therefore be the year-to-date gain, which stands at +5,9% to 2,3 million units. Among the major markets, France (-2,9%), Germany (-2,6%) and the UK (-0,3%) lost volume compared to 2016, while Italy (+6,2%) and Spain (+0,2%) improved. Altogether, 8 out of the 30 markets lost volume in February. Among the smaller markets, Romania (+62,9%) and Greece (+56,9%) stood out with excellent performances.… Continue Reading …
After 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 …
The European car market continues its steady growth in 2017 as almost 1,2 million passenger cars were sold in January, an increase of 9,6% 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%.
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.
The 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.
The 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.
If 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.