European sales Jan-Sep 2013 Midsized SUV segment

Nissan-Qashqai-VW-Tiguan-Kia-Sportage-sales-europe-jan-sep-2013The midsized SUV segment remains stable, growing just 1% in the first three quarters of 2013 compared to the same period last year. The fourth largest segment in Europe has a clear number one and number two, but there’s heavy competition for the other places in the top 10.

Soon-to-be-replaced Nissan Qashqai leaves the rest of the industry wondering when its sales momentum will come to an end, but for the first 9 months of 2013, its sales have remained virtually flat. The new generation will be introduced next month, a 7-seater to replace the Qashqai+2 is not planned, as Nissan will replace the body-on-frame X-trail with a crossover that is identical to the US Nissan Rogue, which will cater customers who need more seats. The new design will move X-Trail back up the ladder as well, increasing the Asian stranglehold on the segment.

ford-kuga-mazda-cx-5The new generation Ford Kuga, similar to the US Escape, is unable to match the Korean’s sales pace, while Skoda Yeti should improve on a recent facelift to defend it against new generations of the Japanese competition. Mazda CX-5 is making waves, doubling its sales of last year, while model changes of Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 have brought added interest into their showrooms. By year end, RAV4 will likely have passed CR-V again, as Toyota deliveries gain some momentum.… Continue Reading …

European sales Jan-Sep 2013 Large SUV segment

hyundai-santa-fe-kia-sorento-sales-europe-jan-sep-2013The large SUV segment is following the path of the large MPV segment, decreasing 20% to just below 25.000 units in the first three quarters of 2013, but the premium brands are to thank for that. The premium large SUV segment sells five times the volume of the non-premium brands. While large MPV’s are mainly Europe-only models with the exception of Voyager, for most of the large SUV’s Europe is just an afterthought. More large SUVs are sold in the US and the Arabian Gulf states during a tennis game between President Obama and Secretary General Al Zayani than in 12 months in Europe.

Of the top players in the segment, only Hyundai Santa Fe is able to withstand the slide, with 635 more sales than in the same period last year, thanks to the introduction of the third generation, which is esthetically a huge step forward from the previous versions, which looked like someone had put them in an oven and they melted.

Kia Sorento has never been able to repeat the success of its first generation, due to unmemorable design. Sorento design stands out in the Kia showrooms, but not in a positive way and it is in desperate need of a Peter Schreyer make-over. But then again, could Kia care less about the European performance of Sorento, with 81.380 sales in the United States (-8%) in the first three quarters of 2013 vs. just 6.102 sales in Europe (-27%)?… Continue Reading …

European sales Jan-Sep 2013 Premium Compact segment

Audi-A3-BMW-1-series-Mercedes-A-Class-sales-europe-jan-sep-2013The premium compact car segment in Europe remains the place to be for premium automakers, as the segment grew another 24% in the first three quarters of 2013 compared to the same period last year, totaling over 550.000 units in 9 months, or over 700.000 units when combined with the premium small car segment. New introductions and model changes of the big players make this a very dynamic segment.

The need to look twice to distinguish the new generation from the old generation, hasn’t hurt sales of Audi A3 at all, which has helped it steal the top spot from BMW 1-series. The small Beemer has also been redesigned, but the designers were to obsessed with ensuring it would be a good car, they forgot to make it look any better than the previous model.

Mercedes-Benz has finally got the memo that a premium compact car is bought by accountants, consultants and law firm apprentices instead of elderly people, which caused a 180° U-turn from the MPV-like old A-Class to the sporty hatchback new generation. As a result, the Stuttgart-based brand has finally caught up with its rivals out of München and Ingolstadt in this segment as well. Those in need of a higher seating position will be served by B-Class, while the hip and trendy are now welcome at Mercedes-Benz as well for a mini CLS, called CLA.… Continue Reading …

European sales Jan-Sep 2013 Premium Midsize segment

bmw-3-series-audi-a4-mercedes-c-class-sales-europe-jan-sep-2013The premium midsized car segment in Europe, let’s call it the account manager segment,  is declining much slower than its non-premium counterpart, down just 8% in the first three quarters of 2013 compared to the same period last year. The new generation of evergreen (or should I say evergrey?) BMW 3-series is to thank for that, increasing its lead over number 2 in the segment from 3.380 units to a crushing 57.065 units. That is including 1.335 sales of the 3-series Coupe replacement BMW 4-series. To be fair, adding A5 sales to A4, BMW would still lead by 16.488 Einheiten.

With every chance to get some flavour into this segment effectively killed by the all-conquering success of glutton BMW 3-series, only its Bavarian rivals Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class manage to sell in volumes worth mentioning, while all others just painfully fail. The German market can be thanked for this, as BMW 3-series, Audi A4/A5 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class respectively sell 34%, 36% and a whopping 43% of their total European sales at home.… Continue Reading …

European sales Jan-Sep 2013 Premium large car segment

BMW-5-series-Mercedes-E-Class-Audi-A6--sales-europe-jan-sep-2013The premium large car segment in Europe, shows a similar decline to its smaller sister premium midsize, down 8% in the first three quarters of 2013 compared to the same period last year. But wait, the similarities between the segments don’t end here: there’s 3 Germans on top, first foreigner is a Volvo, and maybe they will have left some crumbs for a few brands who refuse to quit struggling, against better judgment.

BMW 5-series keeps the lead, but barely, with Mercedes-Benz E-Class breathing down its neck. Looks like that € 1 billion Mercedes has spent on the recent facelift is paying off, with an additional 3.449 units sold this year. It has also passed Audi A6 by a large margin, which takes the biggest hit in the segment, losing 17.289 sales compared to last year. A6 is has been introduced in 2011, just like BMW 5-series, so they’re equally “fresh”. Although 5-series (F10) design isn’t exactly heart stopping either, at least it can be held apart from the previous model (E60), the one with the polarizing design. Maybe Audi’s Single Frame Grille has come to the end of its shelf life.… Continue Reading …

European sales Jan-Sep 2013 Limousine segment

mercedes-s-class-sales-europe-jan-sep-2013The luxury limousine segment in Europe is shrinking faster than the market, down 19% in the first three quarters of 2013 compared to the same period last year. Traditional leader Mercedes-Benz S-Class is back on top thanks to the new generation, at the half-year mark it was still in third position. It shouldn’t come as a surprise the German brands take almost 87% of this segment, as Germany is the largest market for these models, and like the premium midsize car segment and premium large car segment, buyers have a preference for their “own” brands, with one surprising exception

The top six enjoy more than half of their European sales in their home market: in Germany, Mercedes-Benz S-Class sells 56% of total European registrations, BMW 7-series: 50%, Audi A8: 53%, Porsche Panamera: 50%, but the limousine with the most homesickness is the VW Phaeton, a huge 86% of Phaetons are registered with a German license plate! That even beats the 65% UK sales of Jaguar XJ, the expected “winner”. As Italian large sedans usually are not so successful outside of Italy, you’d expect Maserati Quattroporte to be up there with the rest of them, but surprisingly, Quattroporte is the least dependent on its home market, only 29% of European sales are in the boot-shaped country.… Continue Reading …

European sales Jan-Sep 2013 Premium midsized and compact SUV segment

The premium midsized SUV segment in Europe remains stable in 2013, also in the models ranking.

BMW-x3-audi-q5-range-rover-evoque-sales-europe-jan-sep-2013BMW X3 shows the biggest decline, but remains the leader of the segment, although Audi Q5 is getting close, followed closely by the highly successful Range Rover Evoque. Volvo XC60 loses some ground, but is still way ahead of Mercedes-Benz GLK. Mercedes clearly have made a misjudgment giving it a square, rugged look compared to the sleek, rounded exteriors of X3 and especially Q5, as GLK is selling at half the volume of its German competitors.

The increased interest in Land Rover Freelander must be a result of steep discounts, as the second generation wasn’t exactly state-of-the-art at its introduction in 2006. The long overdue new generation won’t come until the end of 2014, though. It is heavily dependent on the British market, taking 68% of its European sales in the first three quarters of the year.… Continue Reading …

European sales Jan-Sep 2013 Premium large SUV segment

Mercedes-M-Class-Range-Rover-Sport-Porsche-Cayenne-sales-europe-jan-sep-2013The premium large SUV segment in Europe shows a smaller decline in the first three quarters of 2013 than the non-premium large SUV segment, at minus 14%. However, every model in the top 10 is losing sales compared to last year, except for one.

Mercedes-Benz M-class has kept the crown of the segment, despite the new generation coming in the first half of 2014, so it is safe to say that M-class will still be in the lead by the end of next year. The fight for second position is on, though. With Porsche Cayenne leapfrogging VW Touareg and BMW X5, which show even bigger declines. The new generation Range Rover Sport  is in showrooms now, and it has some positive press reviews in its pocket. It has shed a lot of weight, switching from a body-on-frame to a unibody configuration, and that makes it more efficient, more comfortable and sportier at the same time, giving it a good shot at leaving those 3 Germans behind to take 2nd place in 2014. However, BMW has just introduced its new generation X5 and even though cosmetic changes are relatively small, it won’t give up without a fight.… Continue Reading …

European sales Jan-Sep 2013 Exotic car segment

bentley-continental-gt-ferrari-458-italia-sales-europe-jan-sep-2013Sales of exotic cars in Europe are relatively stable in the first three quarters of 2013, and no changes at the top. Bentley Continental GT and GTC increase their combined lead over Ferrari 458 Italia. It must be because of their engine downsizing, adding an optional V8 to the V12. Some updates in 2014 and the introduction of the 458 Speciale should help the Italian model to take the lead next year. Mind you, sales of McLaren MP4 are not published, but they don’t come close to Ferrari 458 Italia, with 1.400 annual MP4 sales worldwide.

Mercedes SLS AMG has taken a huge hit, down 55% year-on-year, which has given Audi R8, Aston Martin Vantage and newcomer Ferrari F12 the chance to storm ahead.

Aston-Martin-DBSAston Martin is on a roll anyway, with Vanquish relaunched successfully and DBS sales up over 250%. Introduction of Vanquish Volante next year will help sales even further. You’d think Aston Martin is owned by VW Group, since all its models look alike and are hard to distinguish from each other, while still being successful.… Continue Reading …

What are VW’s intentions with Seat?


VW has been a stockholder of Seat since 1986 and full owner since 1990, with the Spanish brand supposedly being the sporty brand of the now 11-brand group. However, the model strategy did not always support this. And after sales peaked at over 520.000 units in 2000, the brand has seen sales drop to just over 300.000 units in 2009 and 2012, the lowest number since at least 1998. It’s sister brand Skoda meanwhile, has seen sales rise every year since 2002, passing Seat in 2005 and peaking in 2012 at almost 950.000 units, more than triple those of Seat. In 1999, Seat was ahead of Skoda by 134.000 units.

With VW Group boss Ferdinand Piech openly courting Alfa Romeo, another troubled Mediterranean sporty brand, the future of Seat seems to hang by a thread, even though Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has taken every opportunity to deny Alfa Romeo is for sale or will be in the near future. But what if struggling Fiat needs some of those billions of Euros in VW Groups war chest to buy the remaining stake of Chrysler or just to pay off some of its huge debt? With Alfa Romeo in the hands of the Germans, what value would Seat hold in the Group’s brand portfolio? Especially with the brand reporting operating losses since 2008, adding up to over € 1 billion.

Continue Reading …