Sales of small MPVs continue to nosedive, as 2016 segment volume is down 12% in the fourth quarter and down 14% for the full year, barely staying above 300.000 sales. That means the entire segment sells fewer units than the Renault Clio by itself. This also makes it by far the fastest shrinking segment in Europe for the second year running. Until 2014, more than 400.000 small MPVs were consistently sold every year. Unsurprisingly, all models share the pain, with not a single nameplate growing its volume in 2016, after only one model improved in 2015. The segment leader Fiat 500L shows the slowest rate of decline at -4% and improves its share of the segment to 27% and logically remains on top of the ranking, followed by the Opel/Vauxhall Meriva, which will be replaced in 2017 by the Crossland X. This will be a more crossover-like model, co-developed with PSA which will launch a new generation Citroën C3 Picasso on the same platform. The Ford B-Max is unlikely to be replaced when it hits the end of its life cycle, but holds on to the third spot is took from the Nissan Note in the beginning of this year.
European car sales by segment
The midsized sedan (and station wagon) segment is losing ground in Europe just as it is across the Atlantic. In Q4 of 2016 sales were down 10% to end the year barely in the black: up just 1% from 2015 to 625.185 sales. In the last quarter, 7 models in the top-10 lost volume and all did so with double digits. The Volkswagen Passat holds on to its dominant lead but loses 3,4 percentage points of share compared to 2015 while its sibling Skoda Superb surges 70% to take 2nd place, which means Volkswagen Group still grows its share of the segment to almost 47%. The traditional podium fighters Opel/Vauxhall Insignia and Ford Mondeo are kicked down to fight for 3rd and 4th place. The Insignia holds on to its podium spot for the year, but in Q4 the Mondeo sold 600 units more than its rival which will be replaced by a new generation in 2017. However, there’s a new challenger on the block: In December the Renault Talisman outsold both of them to claim the segment 3rd place. With the Insignia weakened due to the model change and the current Mondeo having never struck a chord with European buyers, the Talisman should have a shot at the podium in the first half of the year, although the Insignia will strike back when the new generation has launched, helped by its popularity in the UK market where the Renault is absent.
The compact car segment in Europe has grown by 3% in 2016, half the growth of the overall market at +6,2% and equal to the subcompact car segment, which remains Europe’s largest segment ahead of this one. Expectedly, the dominant leader of the segment Volkswagen Golf drops back below half a million sales after two years, due to increasing pressure of fresh rivals. The main culprit to the Golf’s demise is the Opel/Vauxhall Astra, movin up from fifth place to #2 for the first time since 2011 thanks to a 30% sales increase on last year, topping a quarter million sales also for the first time since 2011. The bang-for-your-bucks Skoda Octavia holds on to its third place with sales up 5%, helped by the 9% loss for the Ford Focus, dropping from 2nd place to #4. The Peugeot 308 loses a similar share of 9% and drops a place to #5 after topping 200.000 sales for only one year.
The subcompact car segment grew by 3% in 2016, about half the overall market growth of 6,2%, but it remains the largest segment in Europe by a large margin. At the top of the ranking, we have a change of guard. For only the second time since 2009 the Ford Fiesta is not Europe’s best selling subcompact car and for the first time in a decade the Renault Clio is the segment leader. We’ve had three different leaders in three quarters, with the Fiesta in the lead after the first quarter, but the Clio took over in Q3, while the Volkswagen Polo became the segment best seller in Q3. By year end, the Clio ended up on top with sales up 3% to just 3.500 ahead of the Polo, while the Fiesta lost 5% of its volume to drop below 300.000 annual sales for only the second time since 2002. The Clio has just been slightly facelifted and the Polo will be updated soon, but there will be an all-new generation of the Fiesta later this year, which should help the nameplate recover some of the lost ground.
With a bit of a delay we’ll start with the European segment analyses for 2016, starting of course with the minicar segment. Sales of minicars in Europe were stable in 2016 with 1,33 million units sold, compared to an overall market growth of 6,2%. Fiat still holds the top 2 spots of the podium and grows its share of the segment to over 28%, but after 3 years of Fiat 500 reign the Fiat Panda has reclaimed leadership of the segment it led from 2004 until 2012. The Volkswagen Up! holds on to its third place but loses 8% of its volume. The Renault Twingo, leader of the segment between 1999 and 2003, is knocked down into 5th place by the Hyundai i10 and feels the Toyota Aygo breathing down its neck. All three models lose volume in 2016. The Smart Fortwo is the biggest winner in the top-10 with sales up 21%, jumping four places on 2015 and two places on Q3 of 2016. The small two seater even outsold the Aygo in Q4.… Continue Reading …
2016 is set to once again break a new record for both EV and PHEV sales in Europe, but mostly thanks to Plug-in hybrid cars. Sales of battery electric cars increased just 7% in the first three quarters of the year to 70.654 units, after improving by almost 50% in both 2015 and 2014. This means we’ll probably have to wait until 2017 to reach 100.000 annual EV sales in Europe, because a number of governments, most notably Denmark and Sweden, have dialed back on their EV incentives in 2016. Sales of Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles are also slowing down their growth curve, but still improved by 45% and look set top 100.000 sales this year already. Total sales of plug-in vehicles are up 24% to 151.912, or 1,3% of the overall market, compared to 1,1% in the first nine months of 2015.
Sales of exotic cars in Europe grow at double the overall market in the first three quarters of 2016 with an increase of 15% to 4.773 units, compared to +7,5% of the rest of the market. More than half of those sales are for just two models: the Bentley Continental GT / GTC and the new Ferrari 488. The Ferrari was the segment leader in Q2 but the Bentley outsold it in Q1 and Q3. That means the British coupe and convertible is likely to celebrate its 5th consecutive year as the best selling exotic car in Europe, with either the 488 or its predecessor Ferrari 458 Italia not far behind for most of that time. The Lamborghini Huracan consolidates its third place thanks to the arrival of the Spider version. The Rolls Royce Dawn was the #4 of the segment in Q3 and moves to 7th place year-to-date with a good shot at moving up one more place by year end, trumping the Aston Martin DB9, which is being replaced by the al-new DB11.
Sales of large passenger vans in Europe are up 21% in the first nine months of 2016, after a 35% improvement in Q3. The segment outperforms the overall market at +7,5% by a large margin, as the entire top-6 shows double digit growth. The Volkswagen T6 still leads the segment with almost a third of total sales thanks to its facelift of last year. The T6 sold more than twice as many units in Q3 than any of its challengers. However, keep in mind these sales include those of the Multivan, the luxury passenger van that competes with the Mercedes-Benz V-Class. If we combine sales of the latter with those of its basic twin Vito Tourer, Mercedes would be the closest rival of VW in this segment, however still unable to touch the Transporter. The Fiat Ducato was outsold by the V-Class in Q3 but has built up a large enough advantage to keep its position by the end of the year.
Sales of large premium SUVs in Europe are up 25% in the first three quarters of 2016, significantly faster than the overall market at +7,5%, and at double the rate of growth in the US, where this segment grows 13%. However, in Europe this segment takes only 1,9% of total market volume, compared to 3,4% in the United States. The podium remains unchanged from the first half of the year, with the BMW X5 still in the lead, ahead of the two newest entries in the top-10: Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7, unable to fight for the lead despite being much fresher than the X5. In fact, the Mercedes-Benz GLE also outsold them both in Q3 and moves into fourth place year-to-date, passing the Range Rover Sport. The entire top-4 of the segment is available with a plug-in hybrid option, which has helped popularity of the segment as a whole.
Sales of midsized premium SUVs in Europe keep growing even faster, at +44% in Q3, bringing the year-to-date tally for the first three quarters to +31%. None of the remaining nameplates has clocked a loss, but five out of ten show only single-digit gains, as over 40% of the segment growth can be attributed to a single brand: Mercedes-Benz. After years of slow sales due to a product that didn’t match the preferences of most buyers (the GLK), the German brand is now playing catch-up with the new GLC and GLC Coupe, immediately storming to third place of the segment. Ahead of the GLC are two elderly models, both about 8 years old already but still selling well in the final stages of their life cycle. The Volvo XC60 grows just 3% which means it loses about 4,5 percentage points of share, and the Audi Q5 improves 5% and loses 3,6 percentage points, but climbs back onto the podium after being relegated to 4th place in the first half of the year.… Continue Reading …