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…]
We’ve discussed the 2016 success stories and disappointments of the Chinese car market, now we’ll focus on our expectations for 2017, like we’ve done for Europe. Looking ahead, even one year, can be very tricky. Last year we predicted EVs and PHEVs in China to continue their boom. From January to November 2016 sales of New Energy vehicles increased 102% in a market up 18%, to 282.292 units, including 41.796 in November alone. Pure electric car sales were the bulk of that volume with 208.839 units, an increase of 145%, while plug-in hybrid sales increased 35% to 73.453 units. And the good news is that although electric minicars/citycars still make up the bulk of China’s pure EV sales (62,2%), the real growth comes from the compact EV segment with sales up almost 9-fold. We also predicted two disappointments for 2016: DS and Volkswagen. DS was a no-brainer and you can read in our disappointments article, and for Volkswagen we said it would have to get used to single digit growth but the brand has shown remarkable resilience and has managed to grow 12,7% through November. While that’s still slower than the overall market, keep in mind the brand has completely missed the crossover hype in the same way PSA has, but it sedan-heavy line-up has continued to sell well. VW has launched 3 new nameplates in 2016: the Sportsvan has outsold its rival BMW 2-Series by almost 3-to-1, the Phideon is more of an image booster than a volume model at 800 monthly sales, but the C-Trek is the most promising with 5.600 sales in its first month.
1. Jeep: success
Like DS was last year, Jeep is a no-brainer here. The American SUV brand could easily have been mentioned among our success stories of 2016, as it has sold well over 100.000 units in its first year of local production in China, peaking at over 16.000 sales in November with its two models: Cherokee and Renegade. That puts the brand ahead of Cadillac, which did get a mention as one of the most successful brands in China last year. [Read more…]
Looking ahead, even one year, can be very tricky. Last year we correctly predicted that Mercedes-Benz had a shot at reclaiming its luxury crown, and it has overperformed. We also said the Jaguar F-Pace would be off to a great start, and that too has materialized nicely: having been launched in Q2 of 2016, Jaguar’s first crossover has outsold the Porsche Macan and BMW X4 in the second half of the year and has outsold the Lexus NX for full-year sales, grabbing a segment 7th place in H2, which is similar to the XE and not bad for a brand’s first entry into a segment that has very strong competition not only from new launches but also from surprisingly consistent old-timers.
In terms of expected disappointments, we predicted Ford would lose its #2 position in the brand ranking, and that happened in November when Renault stormed past in the YTD ranking. We also said Dacia would lose volume in 2016, but that didn’t materialize as expected. The French-Romanian brand has shown remarkable resilience as four out of its five models improved volume in 2016, despite no big new product launches, just minor updates. An impressive performance! Lastly, we doubted Infiniti’s ambitious targets for the Q30 and QX30, and although the latter is still in start-up mode, it’s safe to say the Q30 hasn’t really taken off as its parent had hoped it would. Sure, around 9.000 sales (8.391 through November) is by far the best any Infiniti model has ever sold in Europe (the next best being the Q50’s 2015 figure of just over 3.000 units), but it’s not even close to the European target of 30.000 annual sales for the two models combined.
Now, what do we expect from 2017? [Read more…]