European sales 2014 January – September Passenger Van segment

 

Sales of passenger vans have increased in the third quarter of 2014, for both segments. The large passenger van segment is now up 5% on 2013, while the compact passenger van segment has returned into positive territory, improving 2% on last year.

Fiat-Ducato-passenger-van-sales-EuropeThe large passenger van segment is benefiting from a flood of new generations and model updates, but despite being one of the oldest models in the segment, the Volkswagen Transporter/Multivan T5 still manages to improve its sales, albeit slightly. It still holds over 33% share of the segment, more than 10% over its nearest competitor, the Fiat Ducato. I expect the Ducato to improve even further next year, as the model has just been updated.… Continue Reading …

European car sales analysis September 2014 – models

European-car-sales-ranking-september-2014-Renault_Clio-Ford_Fiesta

Photo credit: Caradvice.com.au

September was a very strong month of sales in the UK, as you can read in the European car sales brand ranking for September 2014 and as a result, models that do well in the UK market are expected to over-perform in the ranking this month. For example, the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa and Astra both move up one spot in the September ranking when compared to their year-to-date level. And in August, the Renault Clio came within 500 units of the Ford Fiesta, but in September, the Fiesta had a lead of more than 10.000 sales over the Clio, similar to last March, the other big month of UK sales.

The Volkswagen Polo is the biggest gainer in the top 10, thanks to its (minor) facelift. This makes two Volkswagens on the podium, as the Golf has held on to its traditional top spot, followed by four subcompacts, the Ford Focus and the Peugeot 208. Last month, the Audi A3 also benefited from strong UK volume, as did the Fiat 500 in 9th position.

Mercedes-Benz-C-Class-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeExcellent performance of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, outselling its main rival BMW 3-series for the first time since November 2012, thanks to its new generation and also helped by BMW’s decision to rename the coupe and convertible versions as the 4-series. It’s unlikely the C-Class will overtake the 3-series for the full year, but considering it’s less than 200 units behind the aging Audi A4 year-to-date, the Merc will have moved into second place in the first week of October.

The Opel/Vauxhall Mokka has enjoyed a strong month of September as well, closing in on the Renault Captur with less than 400 sales between them, and leaving the Peugeot 2008 and especially the Dacia Duster behind.… Continue Reading …

European car sales analysis September 2014 – brands

European-car-sales-september-2014-Vauxhall-dealershipSeptember marks the 13th month in a row that the European car market increases year-over-year. At 1.267.068 units, the market has grown 6,1% when compared to September 2013, leading to a year-to-date tally of 9,85 million cars, which is up more than half a million on last year, or 5,6%. In September, the European car dealers sold over 500.000 cars more than they did in August, which is traditionally the slowest month of the year due to the summer holidays.

Also, September marks the twice-yearly license plate change in the UK, which means this month a backlog of registrations is released, and it’s traditionally second to March as the largest month of the year in Europe’s second market, after Germany. In fact, the UK was by far the largest market this month, as more one in every three cars sold in Europe was registered in the UK, compared to 18% or less than one in five over the course of a full year.

European-car-sales-september-2014-Vauxhall_Insignia-Ford_MondeoAs a result, brands that are popular in the United Kingdom have sold exceptionally well in September. For example, the UK market accounted for more than half of all Ford cars sold in Europe, and GM’s UK Vauxhall brand outsold its twin Opel brand in all other European markets. Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz cars, which are usually heavily dependent on their German home market, sold more than one third of their European volume in Great Britain. For Jaguar and Land Rover and Bentley, the dependence on what used to be their home market becomes even more clear in September, with 80%, 72% and 74% of their sales respectively.

After breaking its record market share two months in a row, the Volkswagen Group has returned to a somewhat more modest share of 23,6% of the European car market. … Continue Reading …

Fleet of Tesla Model S electric taxis at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Tesla-Model_S-taxi-Schiphol-Amsterdam-AirportAmsterdam Schiphol Airport has recently introduced the Tesla Model S as the preferred airport taxi for arriving passengers who need transportation to their destination. This means a total of 167 Tesla Model S 85 kWh sedans are currently in use by two taxi companies, giving Schiphol the largest fleet of all-electric taxis of any airport in the world. A third company, Taxi Electric, has run a Model S between Amsterdam and Schiphol airport for a few months already, in addition to its fleet of Nissan Leaf zero-emission taxis. The Tesla taxis will serve Schiphol for a period of at least four years, with an optional extension of up to eight years.

“This represents a crucial step in our efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and become one of the world’s top three most sustainable airports’, explained Jos Nijhuis, Schiphol Group’s President and CEO, who happens to drive a Tesla Model S company car himself. The Tesla taxis are expected to run just over half of all taxi rides from the airport, as they’ll be supplemented with regular diesel-powered taxis during peak hours.… Continue Reading …

Crisis in the midsized car segment, part 1: How bad is it?

The midsized car segment in Europe has been in a deep crisis for over a decade, but the bottom of the steep slope appears to be in sight. After total segment sales of premium and non-premium models had dropped from a high of over 2.7 million vehicles in 2001 to less than 1.2 million in 2013, the decline seems to have stabilized in 2014 with sales year to date down less than 0,2% on last year.

The decline is not evenly shared among premium and non-premium models. In fact, non-premium models outsold their premium rivals by at least a 2-to-1 ratio until the year 2000, but especially the German Big 3 have made great inroads ever since. As a result of this strong performance, in 2013 for the first time ever, premium midsized cars outsold their non-premium rivals in Europe and they’re taking an even greater lead in 2014.

Midsized-car-segment-sales-Europe

BMW is the big winner of the segment, as the 3-series increased its share of the segment from 11,7% ten years ago to 19,5% this year (including the 4-series). Audi and Volkswagen shares also grew by 5 percentage points or more with their A4, A5 and Passat (including CC), followed by Volvo thanks to the success of the S60 and V60, Skoda’s Superb and Mercedes-Benz with the C-Class. Besides VW and Skoda, the only other non-premium automaker to increase its segment share is Hyundai-Kia, although the i40 and Optima remain niche players with a combined share of 2,6%, or less than 2.500 units per month.

All other mainstream brands have either lost more than half of their volume in the segment, abandoned the segment or have disappeared from the market altogether. … Continue Reading …

Honda Accord next victim of crisis in midsize segment

Honda-Accord-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeHonda has confirmed rumors that the brand has no plans to develop a replacement to the European version of its Accord midsized sedan and station when the current eighth generation reaches the end of its life cycle. This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the model’s sales have been decimated in the last decade. In 2004, Honda sold a record of 48.346 Accords in Europe, but that figure has dwindled more than 90% to a mere 4.467 units last year, while 2014 sales are off another 35% year to date.

The addition of Honda’s first in-house developed diesel engine in 2004 gave the model a much-needed boost, as more than half of all midsized cars sold in Europe are equipped with an oil burner, but it couldn’t save the Accord. Despite its reputation for undisputed quality, Honda’s midsized car was considered too expensive by most buyers, as Japanese production forced the brand to price the Accord against the premium offerings in the highly competitive midsized segment.… Continue Reading …

Datsun re-launch: a success or a failure?

Datsun-Go-Introduction-India-Carlos_GhosnA few days ago, Bloomberg reported that Nissan’s recently relaunched low-cost Datsun brand was failing in India, as consumers would be reluctant to spend their money on cars that have an image of being cheap, a similar problem that has plagued the Tata Nano. I think this article is a bit of an easy shot at Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Renault-Nissan Group, who’s known for his bold and ambitious goals, but who hardly fails to deliver on his targets. This makes him a sitting duck for journalists as soon as they can smell even a hiccup in his plans.

Focus on India

For one, the article focuses exclusively on India, which is the hardest market to crack, something Volkswagen has experienced as well. Local producer Maruti controls over 45% of the car market and therefore achieves great economies of scale and excellent brand recognition. Hyundai locks in another 16% of the market, which leaves the remaining 12 automakers, among which two other local brands Mahindra and Tata, to divide a pie of less than 800.000 annual sales among each other. Introducing a new brand in any market is not a short-term project, perhaps even less so in India, and Ghosn has understood that. With average car ownership still extremely low in India, Ghosn has been quoted to say “the risk is to do nothing” and to miss out on the enormous growth potential of this market in the future.… Continue Reading …

Paris Auto Show 2014: new models, part 3

Renault Espace

Renault-Espace-Paris-Auto_Show-201430 Years after the introduction of the groundbreaking first generation Espace and 11 years after the Espace IV, the long awaited fifth generation Renault Espace is shown as a production model in Paris. The exterior design isn’t exactly a surprise, as Renault have made no secret that the Initiale Paris concept car would be a clear indicator for the new Espace. That means it looks much less a large MPV and more a large crossover, although the Espace V will remain front-wheel drive only. After a number of canceled projects, the final production version will be built on Renault-Nissan’s Common Module Family platform that’s also used on the Nissans Qashqai and X-Trail and will be used for Renault’s version of the Qashqai as well as replacements to the Laguna and Megane line-up. That doesn’t sound good for the interior dimensions of the Espace, and from what I could see at the Paris Auto Show, the third row of seats is only suitable for little children, which leads to the question what the Espace has to offer what the Grand Scenic doesn’t. Renault has not yet announced plans for a stretched Grand Espace, but considering this was the most popular version of the previous model and also considering the cramped third seating row, it certainly would make sense to build such a version. European sales of the Espace peaked at just under Renault_Espace-Paris-Auto_Show-201465.000 units in 2004, but have declined to 8.200 sales last year. Renault anticipates 25.000 sales for the new generation, of which Germany and France would each take more than one quarter. But I don’t think those sales figures will be enough to outsell the Ford S-Max and take back the crown of the large MPV segment.

Skoda Fabia

Skoda-Fabia-Paris-Auto_Show-2014The third generation Skoda Fabia was the star of the Skoda stand, introduced as a five-door hatchback and a station wagon simultaneously, although the station wagon will arrive in showrooms a few months later. Renault and the VW group are the only ones to offer a station wagon version of a subcompact car, with the Renault Clio Estate, Dacia Logan MCV, Seat Ibiza ST as the only competitors to the Skoda Fabia combi. Skoda seems to have adopted the same design strategy that’s proven successful for Volkswagen and Audi, which is to slowly evolve the exterior design of their vehicles instead of trying to come up with a revolutionary new look. Skoda_Fabia-Paris-Auto_Show-2014The new Fabia is therefore still very recognizable as a Fabia, although critics may say that it looks too much like the old one. Nevertheless, the Fabia should again be able to peak at 200.000 annual sales in Europe, as both previous generations have done by a large margin.… Continue Reading …

Paris Auto Show 2014: new models, part 2

Jaguar XE

Jaguar-XE-Paris-Auto_Show-2014After the much maligned, but commercially relatively successful (9 years of production and 400.000 worldwide sales, of which half in Europe) Mondeo-based X-type, the Jaguar XE is the brand’s second attempt at a premium midsized sedan. This time they’ve developed the car from scratch and are hoping its rear-wheel drive layout will help make it the new benchmark of the segment in terms of driving pleasure. The XE will be equipped with an all-new generation of engines, also developed in-house, which will spread across the Jaguar-Land Rover line-up. The XE’s styling resembles that of the larger XF, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but they could’ve been a bit more flamboyant in my opinion. It absolutely looks stunning with the optional sport-pack but I think the standard version, like the white one on the picture, is a bit too uninspiring to compete in the tough premium midsize segment. However, making all their cars look alike has worked out for Audi for years, so I see why Jaguar chose to give the Jaguar_XE-Paris-Auto_Show-2014XE a familiar face. Jaguar is rather modest with their sales projections, as 30.000 units a year in Europe (of which two thirds in the UK) is meager when compared to the 200.000 sales of the BMW 3-series, but it would still make it the brand’s best selling model by far, and it would double total Jaguar sales in the continent.

Kia Sorento

Kia-Sorento-Paris-Auto_Show-2014Kia has shown the third generation of its Sorento large SUV, which has grown larger and wider, but is lower than its predecessor. The exterior design of the 7-seater has been softened, with a more rounded look to appear more crossover than SUV. The Sorento shares its platform with the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Kia Carnival large MPV, the latter of which is no longer available in Europe. Fuel economy has become increasingly more important in Europe, and as a result the large SUV segment has shrunk considerably in the past decade. The second generation Sorento has never been able to come close to the sales figures of the hugely popular first Kia_Sorento-Paris-Auto_Show-2014Sorento, which peaked at almost 45.000 units. I expect the new generation to reach no more than one third of that figure as well. But with European sales of the Hyundai Santa Fe limited to supply shortages, that means the Sorento should be able to lead the large SUV segment in Europe again.… Continue Reading …

Paris Auto Show 2014: new models, part 1

Fiat 500X

Fiat-500X-Paris-Auto_Show-2014Fiat has taken the covers of its 500X small crossover in Paris. It’s technically identical to its cousin Jeep Renegade, but they are completely different in styling. Whereas the Renegade shows the square and rugged lines of a true Jeep, albeit in a Playmobil size, the 500X is easily recognizable as a member of the Fiat 500-family, with its rounded and huggable looks. Both will compete in the fast-growing small crossover segment, and will stand out from their mostly French competitors thanks to an optional four-wheel drive system, which is expected to make up about 20% of the 500X’s volume. Fiat projects a volume of around 60.000 units in Europe, which would place it in 5th position of the segment. Fiat_500X-Paris-Auto_Show-2014The Renegade will add another 25.000 to that tally. Europe’s most important market for the 500X besides its home market Italy is France, as that’s where small crossovers are the most popular. But the biggest market worldwide will be the USA, which are expected to take about one quarter of 500X sales worldwide.

Ford Mondeo

Ford-Mondeo-Paris-Auto_Show-2014After having already been on display at the Paris Auto Show in 2012, the Ford Mondeo is finally ready to hit the European market. Even though its design is already almost three years old, it still looks fresh and from some bystanders I heard they liked it much better than the new Volkswagen Passat, which has been styled very conservatively. The engine line-up will start with Ford’s already famous 1,0 liter 3-cylinder Ecoboost engine which also powers the Fiesta and Focus. It offers more power and more fuel economy than the 1,6 liter 4-cylinder engine it replaces. This engine should prove especially popular in markets with government subsidies on the most fuel efficient vehicles. Besides the diesel engines, which will take the bulk of sales, Ford will also offer the Mondeo Hybrid. It will be priced similar to the diesel version, giving buyers who’d rather not drive a diesel an alternative powertrain. A plug-in hybrid version, as offered in the USA as the Fusion Energi, is not planned for Europe, but it’s ready to be launched if demand for such a vehicle justifies bringing it to the market. Ford-Mondeo-Wagon-Paris-Auto_Show-2014Ford has not disclosed sales projections, but it won’t be a secret they’re aiming for a number one spot in the midsize segment. But I don’t think the Mondeo will outsell the Passat and I see a potential for 150.000 sales per year in Europe for the Mondeo, the bulk of which will go to the UK and Germany.… Continue Reading …