After looking at the May 2017 car brand ranking in Europe, let’s discuss sales figures of individual models. The first thing to notice is that the market leader Volkswagen Golf scores its first single-digit loss since last January, after 3 months with double digit losses of which April was the worst with a decline of 28,3% (or almost 14.000 sales less than April 2016), although it must have hurt more that the Golf was outsold by the Ford Fiesta in March. The facelifted version is now fully available and VW’s compact hatchback (and station wagon) can continue its dominance of the European car sales charts. In May its smaller sibling Polo was in 2nd place, just ahead of the Renault Clio, both above 30.000 sales for the second time this year. The Polo will be facelifted later this year, the Clio has just been freshened. Meanwhile, the new generation Fiesta is just entering dealerships across Europe and should start to make an impact later this year. For now the Fiesta is stuck in 4th place, ahead of the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa, the biggest loser in the top-10 at -8,2%. [Read more…]
European car sales returned to growth in May after a one-month hiatus because of a late Easter. In May 2017, just over 1,4 million cars were sold in the European Union and EFTA, an increase of 7,4% on last year. This brings the year-to-date tally to 6,85 million sales, up 4,7% on the first five months of 2016. Of the five largest countries, four outgrew the market while the UK recorded its third consecutive monthly decline at -8,5%. In contrast, Germany (+12,9%) and Spain (+11,2%) showed double digit growth and France (+8,9%) and Italy (+8,2%) also improved with impressive figures. Besides the UK, only Ireland (-7,9%) and Greece (down a horrid 20,9% in May but still in positive YTD) declined, while Croatia was the biggest gainer (+34,1%), followed by Hungary (+28,6%) and Romania (+27,1).
If Volkswagen Group was the big volume loser in April with a loss of more thsn 28.000 sales, in May the company rebounds with an increase of over 25.000 sales, almost as much as the #2 and #3 fastest growing manufacturers combined, Renault-Nissan and Daimler AG. On the other end of the scale, Honda, Tata Motors with its Jaguar and Land-Rover brands and Mazda lose the most volume, although Honda is the only manufacturer to lose more than 1.000 sales year-on-year. [Read more…]
Car sales in China seem to have stalled after years of double digit growth. The main culprit for the slowdown has been mentioned on these pages before: the government has artificially boosted demand for cars with small engines since the 3rd quarter of 2015 when the market threatened to sink into the red due to a collapsing stock market and reduced customer confidence. That tax break has worked perfectly in pulling forward car purchases in Q4 of 2015 and in 2016 but it was cut in half by the beginning of 2017 and has since affected the Chinese car market in a negative way. Sales of vehicles with engines of 1,6 liters or less fell 9% to 1.15 million last month. In Q1, total market sales were still up by 5,7% but two months of declines have brought the year-to-date tally to 9,25 million, up just 2,7% on the first 5 months of 2016. A 2,2% loss in April was a first warning sign and now in May sales are down by another 2,1% to 1,71 million units. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate rebounded to 22,2 million, still the second lowest figure in the past 12 months. SUVs and crossovers continued to fuel the market with sales up 13% to 715.000 units in May, but this could not offset declines in deliveries of sedans (-9,3% to 839.000 sales) and MPVs (-17% to 150.000). The share of domestic automakers was the lowest since last August at 40,3% and it has fallen hard since its peak of 47,1% in February. However, compared to May 2016, the domestic brands have increased their sales 3% while the foreign brands saw their volume shrink by 5,5%. Year-to-date, the domestic share is now 43,4%.
After discussing the April 2017 European car brand sales ranking, let’s take a closer look at which individual models are helping their brand succeed or fail. After the freak event in March, when the Volkswagen Golf was not the best selling car in Europe, things have returned to normal in April, although the Golf is still the biggest loser by far in the top-25 wiht a loss of more than 28% on last year. The Golf lost more sales from April 2016 to April 2017 than its rival Renault Megane sold last month (Golf: -13.831 units). And while the Golf no longer sells double the volume of its nearest competitor, it still has a gap of almost 10.000 sales to the #2, as the entire top-3 is down. One culprit for the Golf’s demise is obvious in 4th place: the success of the Volkswagen Tiguan, up 70% to equal its highest ranking ever. Last month’s leader Ford Fiesta is down to 7th place as it’s payback time for its dependence on the UK market, which was exceptionally strong in March, but exceptionally weak in April. The same can be said of the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa, down 15% into 8th place. We welcome the Citroën C3 into the top-10 for the first time ever, as it even threatens to outsell its recently acquired stablemate Corsa. The Skoda Octavia is back into the top-10 which means there’s only one crossover in the top-10, as the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Captur are both just outside. The Captur is down 14% but remains ahead of its rivals Peugeot 2008 (#14) and Opel/Vauxhall Mokka X (#25), which are both down by single digits as competition in the segment has intensified by the arrival of new players. [Read more…]
The European car market declined by 7% in April 2017 as a collapsing UK market exacerbated a general slowdown across the continent which was caused by having fewer selling days than in 2016 due to a late Easter. Still, the almost 1,22 million cars sold in April is still slightly better than the same month in 2015. As mentioned, the biggest culprit of the decline is the British market, which declined by almost 20% on last year as the result of an increase in the Vehicle Excise Duty tax which came in effect on April 1st in the UK. Another part of the explanation for the plummeting sales is that Easter fell in April this year instead of in March, which means dealers had fewer selling days in 2017. Combined sales of March and April are still up by 2,9% on 2016. The UK market is expected to stabilize as the year proceeds, as the effect of the tax raise will wither away. The Year-to-date figure now stands at 5,44 million units, an increase of 4% on the first four months of 2016.
Of the big markets, only the Spanish market grew in April (+1,1%), as the UK posted a double-digit drop (-19,8%) and Germany (-8%), France (-6%) and Italy (-4,6%) also lost volume. This was balanced by positive contributions from the so-called EU-12 countries (+8.2%), the member states that have joined the EU since 2004. The fastest growing market was Croatia (+29,6%), while Ireland was the biggest loser at -24,5%. [Read more…]
The Chinese car market is fluctuating in the first four months of 2017: After a stable January, a promising 20% gain in February 2017 and a modest growth of 2,9% in March, April sales are down 2,2% again, for a total of 1,68 million units. Of course, this is still the second-best ever April figure, and the YTD total now stands at 7,54 million, an increase of 3,8% on the first four months of 2016. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate stands at 21,4 million in April, the lowest figure in the past 12 months. Sales of vehicles with engines of 1,6 liters or less fell 10% to 1.14 million, after the central government phased out a tax break on these models at the beginning of this year. SUVs and crossovers are once again the main (and only) winners in April with sales up 10% to 674.000 units, while sedans sales decline for the second consecutive month at -7,3% to 840.000 sales and MPVs lose volume for the fourth month in a row at -15% to 153.000. New Engergy vehicle sales improved 7,9% to 34.300 units, as EV sales gained 19% to 28.500 units but PHEVs plunged 27% to 5.800 sales. The share of domestic automakers dipped below 42% for the first time since last August as they benefitted the most from the tax cut on small vehicles.
Shock and horror at the top of the European car sales ranking: in March 2017 the Volkswagen Golf is not the best selling car in Europe, for the first time since at least 2011 (our monthly data only goes back to 2012) but likely since March 2010. The Ford Fiesta leads the ranking despite being due for replacement by the next generation, which has already been revealed. This is the result of two factors: firstly the Fiesta is boosted by its strength in the UK market, where it’s traditionally been the best seller, and which is traditionally the largest market in Europe in March, and secondly, the Golf is struggling after its recent facelift with sales down 18%, due to increased choice of in-house crossover alternatives with the new generation Tiguan and Seat Ateca. Still, this won’t be the beginning of the end of Golf domination, expect the model to continue to lead the charts for the rest of the year as it usually does. The Volkswagen Polo is third again, which means it outsells the Renault Clio for the first time since last October. For the second month in a row the Nissan Qashqai is the best selling crossover in Europe, also helped by its popularity in the UK where it’s produced. [Read more…]
A record 1,92 million new cars were sold in Europe in March 2017. This is an increase of 10,5% over March last year and the highest monthly volume ever recorded. Part of the explanation for the surge in sales is that Easter fell in April this year instead of in March, like last year, which means dealers had extra selling days in 2017. Still, almost 2 million sales in a single month is an impressive figure and it even comes close to the 2,02 million sales in China this same month. March sales are usually around 11,5% of total annual volume, which extrapolates to an expected record 16,7 million sales in 2017. That would be an increase of 10,3% on 2015 and significantly higher than the previous record of 16,1 million sales in 2004.
All five of the big markets showed strong growth in March, with Italy (+18,2%), Spain (+12,6%) and Germany (+11,4%) leading the way with double digit gains, while the UK (+8,4%) and France (+7%) grow slightly slower than te rest of the market. 16 out of the 30 markets showed double digit gains and only 5 lost volume, all in single digits. The fastest growing market was Greece (+49,5%), recovering from its deep recession. In the first quarter, European car sales increased 7,8% to 4,22 million units. Italy was the fastest growing of the big markets at +11,9%. [Read more…]
After a stable January, and a promising 20,2% gain in February 2017, March car sales in China are back to modest growth with a 2,9% increase to just over 2 million units. To put that small year-on-year growth into perspective: March 2012 sales just topped the 1 million units, so the market has doubled in 5 years time. In that light, a 3% improvement is quite a slowdown. Then again, first quarter sales are up 6% to 5,78 million and that’s on par with expectations, as sales growth was expected to slow down into the single digits after the tax increase on cars with engines of 1,6 liters or smaller, which made up over 70% of total sales last year. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate stands at 23,5 million in March. SUVs and crossovers are the main (and only) winners in March with sales up 20% to 832.300 units, while sedans surprisingly show a loss of 4,9% to 990.200 sales (first quarter sales are up just 0,8%), and MPVs lose volume for the third month in a row at -15% to 199.300. The central government cut EV subsidies last January but when sales plummeted to almost a halt that month, the subsidies were quickly reinstated, and as a result Sales of New Energy vehicles (EVs and PHEVs) jumped 36% in March to 25.342 EVs and 5.778 PHEVs, but the Q1 figure is still down 4,7% to 44.333 EVs and 11.596 PHEVs. After domestic brands broke a new record share of 46,5% in February, foreign automakers struck back in March with their locally produced models as the share of the domestics dropped to 43,6%. [Read more…]
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…]