Passenger car sales in Europe rose for the third consecutive year in 2016, and its 6,2% increase put the total for the year just above 15 million units for the first time since pre-crisis 2007. Growth for the past 3 years has totaled 22,2%, or 2,73 million additional sales. That means the market has now officially (and finally) recovered, 8 years after the first big hit that shook up the industry. However, there’s still room to grow, because even though the US market appears to be at its peak, the European market (EU + EFTA) still has 7,7% to go before hitting its all-time record of 16,16 million sales it hit in 2004. But first, let’s get back to 2016 and see how individual countries have performed: The growth was largely sustained across the region but weighted towards the South, which had the most to catch up to begin with. Italy (+15,8%) and Spain (+10,9%) showed the biggest gains of the major markets, followed by France (+5,1%), Germany (+4,5%) and the UK (+2,3%). Among smaller markets, Iceland (+31,7%), Hungary (+25,1%) and tiny Cyprus (+22,2%) were the most dynamic, while only 2 out of the 30 markets lost volume: The Netherlands at -14,7% and Switzerland at -2%. [Read more…]
After discussing European car sales for December 2016 by brand, let’s check out what the model ranking looks like in the last month of 2016. Renault amazingly places 3 models in the top-7, with the Clio, Captur and Megane, all showing double digit improvement. Volkswagen managed this same feat in August (when it had 3 models in the top-6) and October with the Golf, Polo and Tiguan, but for the French brand this is a much more unusual performance. In its fourth year, the Captur just keeps improving even without any updates, while the Clio had its best December since 2010 thanks to a minor facelift and the Megane has its second-best month in 4,5 years after last June, now that the new generation is picking up steam including the station wagon version. As a result, the Megane is not that far behind its rival Opel/Vauxhall Astra, hinting at an interesting battle between these two in 2017, a battle which will undoubtedly hurt the segment (and total market) leader VW Golf. The Volkswagen Tiguan makes it five top-10 finishes in a row, of which it outsold its rival Nissan Qashqai four times.
The Opel/Vauxhall Corsa drops out of the top-10 for the first time in 16 months with a 13th place, its lowest ranking in at least a decade. The Peugeot 2008 (#16) keeps improving since its facelift and stays well ahead of the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka (#24), which feels the Dacia Duster (#25) breathing down its neck. The Peugeot 308 barely holds on to a top-20 position but its 51% loss looks worse than it is. [Read more…]
European car sales in December 2016 showed the 10th gain of the year at +2,6%. A total of 1.180.704 new passenger cars were registered last month, just a handful more than the month before. This also makes this the highest December volume on record, indicating the days of crisis are now well and truly behind us. Almost all major markets showed improving sales, with the Southern European leading the way once again: Italy (+13,1%), Spain (+9,3%), France (+5,8%) and Germany (+3.7%) outperformed the market, while the UK (‐1.1%) dropped slightly. Four other countries lost volume in December, and did so with double digits: tiny Cyprus lost 14,7%, even tinier Iceland lost 16,2%, but both were below 1.000 sales. More worryingly were the losses for Greece (-30,1%) and The Netherlands (-48,1%), but the latter was a result of a change in the taxation of company cars by January 1st, 2017. From now on, only EVs will receive a discount on the taxation, and Plug-in hybrids and other fuel efficient cars will no longer be elligible. This also resulted in a 30% share of plug-in cars in the Dutch December sales figures! [Read more…]
After discussing the China car sales figures for 2016, we’ll take a more detailed look into sales of EVs and PHEVs in the People’s Republic, which is by far the biggest market for Plug-in passenger cars in the world with a share of 44% of the world’s sales of this type of vehicle. That’s up from just 6% in 2013, helped by generous and sometimes fraud-prone subsidies. Will this quick rise continue? The Beijing central government has set a goal of 3 million EV sales in China by 2025, up from the almost 325.000 in 2016, so it’s definitely aiming for it. They will switch from the carrot strategy (subsidies) to the stick strategy (a carbon-credit scheme and a Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard), effective within the next few years, which mean foreign automakers will be forced to enter this market too. At the moment, most of China’s EV sales come from the local brands: Chinese automakers have produced 43% of all Plug-in cars built in 2016 worldwide. However, in the short term there is some uncertainty in the market as the central government’s subsidies will decline in 2017 to prepare for the new strategy. But moreover, the government has set standards for EV energy consumption and range, which could lead to a shakeout of mainly manufacturers of small and cheap EV citycars, many of whom are likely to fail to meet these tougher guidelines. [Read more…]
Sales in the Large Pickup segment grew by 2.5 percent in 2016, a slightly faster rate than the market overall, but considerably slower than the Small Pickup segment. That is to be expected – with total sales of 2,242,282 the segment is the third largest, following the Compact SUV and Mid-sized segments, and as such it would be unreasonable to expect double-digit rates of growth. Still, with slowly rising fuel prices pushing customers towards smaller pickups and nothing in the way of new metal arriving anytime soon (other than the continued rollout of new versions of the new-for-2016 Nissan Titan), it’s entirely possible the segment may not gain many sales at all in 2017, or even losing sales for the first time since 2010.
Sales in the Small Pickup segment grew by 25.5 percent in 2016, making it the second-fastest-growing segment, and significantly outpacing the 2.5 percent growth rate of the Large Pickup segment. Morevoer, there is much more scope for growth in the segment, a fact recognized by Honda when it decided to develop the second-generation Ridgeline that went on sale in 2016. Still, with 448,399 sales in 2016 the segment was only a fifth of the size of the Large Pickup segment, and remains smaller than it was a decade ago (sales in 2006 were 562,657). With the recent introduction of the Ridgeline and the heaviliy-modified-for-2016 Toyota Tacoma 2017 is unlikely to bring new metal, with Nissan taking its sweet time with the replacement for the Frontier and Jeep with the long-awaited pickup version of the Wrangler.
Sales in the Large SUV segment increased by 21.8 percent in 2016, making it the second-fastest growing segment, behind the 44.1 percent achieved by the Subcompact SUV segment, but ahead of the 21.0 percent achieved by the Premium Compact SUV segment. What’s even more remarkable is that this growth was driven by a surge in the second half of the year that saw sales rise by 34.9 percent, the fastest growth from among segments. Still, the lower year-0n-year growth saw the Large SUV segment fall behind the Subcompact SUV segment in sales terms, making it the smallest mainstream SUV segment, with 2016 sales of 344,235 only a little over half of what they were in 2006 (620,283). 2017 may finally see the introduction of an all-new Ford Expedition, a car that by some measures could be thought of as the oldest mass-produced model on the US market (even though theoretically in its third generation, the current Expedition can trace its roots to the first model introduced in 1997, which is obvious when you compare the doors or the windows).
Sales in the Compact SUV segment increased by 3.9 percent compared to 2015, to a grand total of 3,067,307 cars sold. This is quite the result – not only does this give the segment a big lead over the second-largest segment, Mid-sized with 2,311,850 sales, but it is the first time ever any one segment has crossed the 3 million threshold. With a bevy of new models entering the market in 2017 (Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Honda CR-V, Jeep Compass and Mazda CX-5) it is reasonable to expect the segment will continue growing in the future, as it solidifies its position as the golden middle of the market, and a firm family-favorite.
Sales in the Subcompact SUV segment surged by a whopping 44.1 percent compared to 2015, the fastest rate of growth by far in 2016, and more than double that recorded by the second-fastest growing segment, Large SUV. What’s more, with 396,960 sales in 2016 the Subcompact SUV segment surpassed the Large SUV segment in sales for the first time, and should reach half a million sales in either 2017 or 2018. However, it’s important to keep in mind that, for all its growth, the segment remains relatively small compared to the other SUV segments: 2016 saw over 1.8 million Mid-sized SUVs being sold, as well as almost 3.1 million Compact SUVs. [Read more…]
Sales in the Minivan segment grew by 8.1 percent in the 2016, making it the only mainstream segment to gain sales in 2016. With total sales of 553,913 the segment is now within 30,000 units of the quickly-shrinking Subcompact segment, which is quite the comeback for the once-favorite family mover that has suffered greatly in recent years as consumers switch over to crossovers and SUVs. 2017 may be better still as the new Chrysler Pacifica comes into its own and the new Honda Odyssey goes on sale, though it could be that sales of the aging Dodge Grand Caravan start sliding considerably, as that could drag the whole segment down.