While minicars rebounded in Q1 of 2017, the subcompact car segment started the year deep in the red with a loss of 15.7% compared to the first quarter of 2016, for a total of 117,995 sales. The segment top-3 all lost with double digits, as the rise of the subcompact crossover segment undoubtedly plays a role in the struggles of the similarly sized sedans and hatchbacks. Then again, no less than four out of the nine players are due to be renewed this year (Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio), while two others are in the second half of their life-cycle (Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris) as well.
The Minicar segment in the United States has returned to growth in 2017 after an abysmal 2016 when sales dipped with double digits. In the first quarter of 2017, sales of North America’s smallest vehicles grew by 8.5% to 27,388 units. Fueling this increased demand were the new generation Chevrolet Spark and the facelift of the Mitsubishi Mirage, which have now taken over the first two spots of the segment podium, knocking the former leader Mini Cooper down to third. The Fiat 500 appears to have hit rock bottom and slightly recovers this year
After discussing European car sales for February 2017 by brand, let’s check out what the model ranking looks like in the second month of 2017. Traditional leader Volkswagen Golf continues its double digit decline after a stable January. Besides its facelift, which still has to pick up steam, the Golf is hurt by increased competition from the Opel/Vauxhall Astra and Renault Megane, but also by increased internal competition from the new Tiguan and Seat Ateca. The Renault Clio continues to improve and reclaims the 2nd spot it held in 2016, ahead of the VW Polo and Ford Fiesta, two models that are due to be replaced this year. For the first time since last September the Nissan Qashqai is the best selling crossover in Europe again, and for the first time since last August there’s only one crossover in the top-10. The Fiat Panda hits its highest ranking in 7 years with a 6th place, ahead of the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa and Peugeot 208. The Astra is down into 9th place despite still growing almost 10%, and it remains the #2 compact car ahead of the Skoda Octavia. The Volkswagen Tiguan is out of the top-10 for the first time since last July despite being the fastest growing model in the top-25. [Read more…]
After a promising start of the year with an almost 10% gain in January, European car sales disappoint in February with a gain of just 2,2% to just over 1,1 million units, still the highest February volume since pre-crisis 2008. The big difference in January vs. February growth can be attributed to the number of business days, which were higher in January 2017 and lower in February, compared to the previous year. A better indication of the strength of the European car market would therefore be the year-to-date gain, which stands at +5,9% to 2,3 million units. Among the major markets, France (-2,9%), Germany (-2,6%) and the UK (-0,3%) lost volume compared to 2016, while Italy (+6,2%) and Spain (+0,2%) improved. Altogether, 8 out of the 30 markets lost volume in February. Among the smaller markets, Romania (+62,9%) and Greece (+56,9%) stood out with excellent performances. [Read more…]
The Chinese car market is one of the most diverse in the world, with almost 500 locally produced passenger car models from more than 70 domestic and foreign brands, as you can see in our 2016 Chinese car sales analysis. If we include imported vehicles, minivans, pickups and commercial vehicles, there are more than 1.000 different models available. In the January 2017 Chinese car sales ranking, we welcome 6 new models: 5 SUVs and a sedan and in the February 2017 ranking, we welcome 4 new models: 2 crossovers, an MPV and a sedan. A few of these models haven’t officially been launched yet, but show up in the rankings due to demo sales.
Baojun has launched a second new model in six months time and this 510 crossover is one of its best looking designs, especially from the front, with its squinting headlights that are visually connected to the grille by a chrome line. The sharp crease running from headlight to taillight and through the door handles makes for an attractive side design, together with the floating roof and the squared off wheel arches, although it should ride a bit lower to reduce the huge gap between the wheels and the arches.. Surprisingly, while a lot of these characteristics are familiar from other brands (Citroën, DS, Suzuki, Range Rover), the combination still looks like an original design. In the interior Baojun also shows it’s one of the more mature brands among domestics, with attractive design: an 8-inch screen on top of the center console in Mercedes-Benz style, Mini-style toggle switches underneath it and lots of “metal” frames. [Read more…]
After a stable January, Chinese car sales rise a promising 20,2% again in February 2017. This is a result of the Chinese New Year festivities, which alternate between January and February each year, so it’s better to look at combined figures of these two months before drawing conclusions about the strength of the Chinese car market. Thanks to 1,59 million sales in February, combined volume for the first two months of the year is up 7,6% to 3,76 million. This is still stronger than most analysts had predicted, as expectations for the first quarter of 2017 were in the low single digits due to the rise on sales tax on vehicles with small engines. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate of 22,68 million is the lowest it’s been since last July, but still significantly up 12% from the 20,25 million of February 2016. SUVs and crossovers are unsurprisingly the main winners with sales up 36,9% to 644.750 units in February (first 2 months: +18,9% to 1.496.712), while sedans gain 15,3% to 772.555 sales (first 2 months: +4,2% to 1.857.478) and MPVs lose volume for the second month in a row at -3,9% to 167.076 (first 2 months: -10,2% to 393.533). Sales of New Energy vehicles (EVs and PHEVs) jumped 30% in February, following a 74% decline in January when electric car subsidies were reduced 20%. This month, domestic brands also reach a new record share of 46,5% in February, breaking the previous high of 45,4% last December. For the first two months combined, domestics have a 44,4% share of their home market, the highest it’s ever been at this stage of the year. [Read more…]
After discussing European car sales for January 2017 by brand, let’s check out what the model ranking looks like in the first month of 2017. The leader Volkswagen Golf has stabilized its decline and stays firmly in control, no surprises there. Behind it, the three subcompact cars are within 1.400 units of each other with the Ford Fiesta still ahead of the Renault Clio while the Volkswagen Polo is in fourth place this year. VW makes it 3 models in the top-5 thanks to the Tiguan, which is only 3.000 units off the #2 spot, the closest any crossover has ever been. The Opel/Vauxhall Astra is in 6th place ahead of the Peugeot 208, while the Nissan Qashqai remains the #2 crossover in Europe with its best January ever. That leaves the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa and Skoda Octavia to round up the top-10. [Read more…]
The European car market continues its steady growth in 2017 as almost 1,2 million passenger cars were sold in January, an increase of 9,6% on the previous year and a 16% increase on 2015. Some of this gain can be attributed to additional business days so we’ll have to wait until the February data is published to see how the market develops at the start of 2017. On a positive note, 21 out of the 30 countries show double digit gains, including 4 out of the 5 major markets: Spain (+10,7%), France (+10,6%), Germany (+10,5%) and Italy (+10,1%) while the UK market grew at a more modest rate of +2.9%. Only 3 countries showed declines: Switzerland (-3,7%), Ireland (-1,8%) and Slovakia (-1,2%). Big loser of 2016 The Netherlands rebounds to become the big winner with sales up 27,1%.
The Chinese car market was down 0,6% in January, which is actually surprisingly strong if you consider these two factors: January had five fewer selling days than in 2016 because of the timing of the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday, and the expected impact of the tax increase on cars with engines of 1,6 liters or less. These cars had received a tax cut from 10% to 5% since Q4 of 2015, which was increased to 7,5% in January before a next step back to 10% in 2018. Considering 72% of sales during this period were cars that qualified for the tax cut, the increase was expected to have a dimming effect on the market in the first quarter of this year. In that light, half a percent loss is not representative for the rest of the year, and doomsday thinkers will have to wait until February results before we can draw any conclusions about a slowing of demand in the worlds largest and fastest growing car markets. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate of 25,8 million is a fair indication the market is still healthy as it’s still 1,6 million higher than January last year. A total of 2,17 million locally produced passenger cars were sold in China in January, still the second best ever January by a large margin. Crossover and SUV sales were of course the strongest segment with 11% growth on last year to almost 881.000 units, while sedans lost 3% of their volume to 1,08 million sales. MPVs, which had shown steady growth until recently, decline a shocking 21% to just over 206.000 sales. Local brands had a 42,8% share of the market, which is lower than January last year and lower than December, but still higher than the 2016 full year figure. [Read more…]
In January, China has overtaken the United States to become the largest global market for Cadillac, the luxury brand of General Motors. Cadillac reported a sales increase of 116% to 18.011 sales in China, of which 16.216 were locally produced (+160%). In comparison, the brand’s US sales in January were down 4,1% to 10.298 units. Worldwide Cadillac sales were 28.764 units in January, which means the US luxury brand sold just 455 cars outside of its two largest markets, just 1,6% of its total volume.
Until 2016, the United States has been Cadillac’s largest market with 170.006 deliveries last year, a loss of 3% on the previous year, while its 2016 sales in China surged 46% to 116.406 units, of which 111.532 were locally produced, more than double the year before. [Read more…]