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Disappointments of 2016: US

After looking at the Success stories of 2016 in the US, Success stories of 2016 in Europe and Disappointments of 2016 in Europe, it’s time to look at who put in disappointing performances in the US in 2016. Coming soon – our predictions for 2017.

1. Mainstream and premium sedan segments

As some readers have pointed out, 2016 was definitely the year of the SUV/crossover. However, there is more to that story, as customers flocking to buy such cars abandoned the more traditional segments in droves, both for mainstream and premium brands. Overall, sales in the mainstream non-SUV sectors fell by 6 percent in the first three quarters of the year compared to 2015, while those in the premium non-SUV sectors fell by over 13 percent. Brands caught in this whirlwind include Mazda (sales down 7.2 percent through November), BMW (down 10.4 percent) and Acura (down 10.6 percent). Looking a bit closer, we see that some models which feature at the head of the segments were hit particularly hard: Toyota Camry (down 9.4 percent), Ford Fusion (down 10.2 percent), Mercedes-Benz C class (down 11.7 percent) or the ubiquitous BMW 3/4 series (down 28.2 percent). With SUVs/crossovers going from strength to strength, it’s unclear whether this trend will reverse anytime soon.

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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.

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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.

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Success stories of 2016: US

For the second year, in what we hope will become an annual tradition here at CarSalesBase, we are using the incoming new year as motivation to reflect back at 2016 and look at its success stories (see here for the 2015 surprises, and here for the 2015 disappointments). Let us know in the comments below if you agree or disagree!

1. Jaguar

For the past two decades, ever since Ford decided to make Jaguar into a global competitor to luxury car brands such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, the British brand has suffered from false dawns and unfulfiffled promises. After doing surprisingly well in the US selling the much-derided X-Type and the uber-conservative S-type, with sales peaking at over 61,000 units in 2002, things took a turn for the worse, with sales dropping to around 15,000 a year, where they have been up until 2015.

This year, however, Jaguar is looking to sell over 30,000 cars for the first time in over a decade, more than doubling last year’s sales. The reason for this upswing is a barrage of new models, with particular success coming from the F-Pace SUV and the mid-sized XE (averaging about 1,500 and 1,000 units per month, respectively). The only bligth on the brand’s copybook is the relative failure of the new large XF to connect with the buyers, with sales in recent months substantially below the levels reached by its predecessor this time last year, no doubt hurt by cannibalization from its new stablemates.

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Is Tesla getting out of the car business?

This is a guest post from one of our enthusiast readers, Colman Murphy. If you’re interested in reaching an audience of almost 200,000 monthly viewers with your automotive related article, get in touch with us! We’re looking for guest writers and additional staff.

Elon_Musk-Tesla-Solar_CityThe acquisition of Solar City by Tesla on November 21st leaves no doubt the latter is increasingly an energy company. Question is, does that make it less of a car company? I doubt Elon Musk feels compelled to focus on just one business  — he’s had his hands simultaneously in Space-X, Tesla and Solar City for a decade now —  but the combined debt and portfolios of Tesla and Solar City must be a source of many a discussion if not discontent among the company’s board and its investors. Earlier this year, this website already discussed a vision of long-term strategy of Tesla, which also brought up the idea that Elon Musk is looking beyond its current form as a car manufacturer.

There are no indications that Tesla must exit the car market, at least not in the near term. There are very few other brands  — automotive or otherwise —  that have executed their vision as effectively as Tesla, and that brand strength alone could carry the company for many years. But the Electric Vehicle/Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) landscape is getting ever so crowded; Tesla’s next vehicle, the Model 3, will impose significant pressure on its profit margins; and a Republican-controlled US government is more likely to favor low oil prices and big trucks from the major corporations over green-technology vehicles made by niche manufacturers on the West Coast. With that as backdrop, a move away from cars might well be the right move for Tesla.… Continue Reading …

Skoda entering the US market? Not so fast, says VW, part 2

Volkswagen-US-strategyI’ve just tried to argue once again why launching Skoda in the US would be a smart move, but I’m sure at least one of our esteemed readers will raise the following counterarguments and I’d have to fully agree with him/her, so here’s why I think why VW shouldn’t bring Skoda to North America: the market is already saturated and the upcoming changes that will affect the automotive industry will give Volkswagen an opportunity to redeem itself. None of these points were stipulated by the unnamed VW board member who was quoted to say it wouldn’t be a good idea to bring Skoda to the US anyway.… Continue Reading …

Skoda entering the US market? Not so fast, says VW, part 1

Skoda_Kodiaq-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeEver since the Diesel scandal broke in the US, there have been rumors that Skoda could step up to enter the North American market to pick up the lost share or even to replace the tarnished VW brand altogether in this market. Kriss even wrote an article explaining in 5 points why it would make sense for Skoda to enter the US market 18 months ago, before the emission cheating software had been revealed. In the poll at the end of that article, 63% of our respondents thought VW should base its US offerings on Skoda models. This week, the influential auto journalist and well-informed industry watcher Georg Kacher quotes a senior VW board member: “We may be crazy, but we’re not mad. Entering this huge market with an unknown brand, a model range focused on Europe, and a non-existent dealer network is pure suicide. Furthermore, the last thing Volkswagen of America needs now is in-house cannibalization.”

The irony in this quote lies in the part “a model range focused on Europe”, because that’s exactly what Volkswagen itself has been unsuccessfully attempting to to for decades.… Continue Reading …

The only way I think Chrysler can survive and why it won’t happen

Chrysler 200With production of the Chrysler 200 midsized sedan set to end next December, the illustrious brand will be down to just two models: the now almost elderly 300 large sedan, which shares its platform with the Dodge Charger and Challenger, and the brand new minivan Pacifica. That means the two namesake brands of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are also its weakest volume brands in the North American market. And considering Chrysler cars are sold almost exclusively in the US and Canada, the brand doesn’t seem all that relevant anymore. That’s unfortunate for a brand which used to be one of America’s most innovative brands with a number of important technological breakthroughs to its name and which of course is credited with the creation of the minivan. However, for the past decades Chrysler has let its image crumble by selling mediocre cars and ongoing financial uncertainty under multiple owners as it has gone through a number of (near-)bankruptcies.
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US is missing out: European 4WD hybrids

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The hybrid trend may have started in Japan, but it is really US customers that were first to wholeheartedly embrace the technology, making the Toyota Prius the giant success that it is today. Ever since it became clear that the technology had the power to lure customers into the showrooms, and, more importantly, open their wallets wider than they would for conventionally-powered cards, carmakers have been trying to offer hybrid cars of their own. Some, though surprisingly few, have taken on the Prius directly (the poor Honda Insight, now Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Nero). Others, primarily Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus, have made good money of offering hybrid options on their luxury cars – a bandwagon that the German luxury brands have belatedly caught onto. Others still have tried to offer hybrid versions of mainstream cars, mostly meeting with moderate to no success (Honda, Ford, Nissan, VW). But the one niche that has not yet truly been tapped in the US, unlike in Europe, is that for smaller cars where a hybrid drivetrain can be used to give normally FWD cars a second set of driven wheels.… Continue Reading …

US is missing out: Citroën brand

Logo CITROEN 05.05 MODIF + REPPROCHESContinuing a series I began last year, I’ll look at different cars sold in worldwide marketplaces that I think US customers would like. This week the focus is on Citroën, one of the oldest and most venerable european car brands, founded in 1919 by André-Gustave Citroën. Over the subsequent almost-century, Citroën acquired a reputation for producing cars that are beautiful and innovative: it built the first unibody car, the first mass-produced front wheel-drive car, the first hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension, the first swiveling headlamps… the list goes on. And while today’s marketplace has eroded some of Citroën’s idiosyncratic spirit, it continues to make cars that are very distinct from it competitors.

Previous US is missing out columns:

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