After a booming first quarter of 2017, sales of exotic cars in Europe have stabilized with a 2% decrease in the second quarter. First half sales are still up, but by “only” 18%, to 3.951 units. We already had a new segment leader in Q1 with the all-new Aston Martin DB11, but in Q2 we crown yet another new leader, as the Ferrari 488 has topped the charts for the first time in its career. Ever since it replaced the former segment leader Ferrari 458 Italia, the Bentley Continental GT had topped the charts. Until this year, that is. After a stable Q1, the Continental loses 23% of its volume in Q2, which leads to an 11% loss year-to-date. The next generation will be revealed at the Frankfurt Auto Show in a few weeks time and will arrive in Bentley showrooms next year. The DB11 slows down slightly in the second quarter and was even outsold by the Continental GT in Q2 (by just 6 sales), but is expected to rebound later this year when deliveries of the AMG V8 twin turbo engine pick up steam. The only other model in the segment to sell more than 100 units per quarter is the Lamborghini Huracan in fourth place with a 12% increase in the first half.
Having analyzed the Electric Vehicles and the Plug-In Hybrid segments, let’s look at the final Alternative Power segment: regular hybrids. This segment is the most well-established of the three, with sales in the first half of 2017 almost twice as high as sales in the other two segments combined. As a result, the growth in the segment was not as high as for the other two, but 24.9% is nothing to be sneered at, as it was still higher than any non-Alternative Power segment bar the SUV Premium Compact segment.
Having analyzed the Electric Vehicles segment, let’s look at plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs for short. The segment enjoyed a growth rate of 61.6%, the highest of all segments, though its total sales remain below those of pure Electric Vehicles, at just over 40,000 in the first half of the year.
Sales of Alternative Power cars in the United States increased by a substantial 32.2%, a rate of expansion considerably faster than that of the second fastest-growing segment, SUV Premium Compact. Comprising of regular hybrid, PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) and EV (electric vehicle) segments, Alternative Power cars ended the first half of 2017 with almost 260,000 cars sold, more than the Subcompact segment, and not far off the Minivan segment. For accounting purposes, keep in mind that we classify many of the Alternative Power cars in other segments too e.g. Toyota Prius liftback figures in the Compact segment, while Ford Fusion PHEV figures in the Mid-sized segment. At least part of the reason for this growth is that EVs and PHEVs continue to benefit from Federal and State rebates, which lower their price even before consumers consider the lower cost at the pumps/mains.
First, let us look at the EVs segment, which grew by 41.2% in the first half of 2017, to a total of 45,150 cars.
Lexus LC enjoys a strong market debut to rank fourth in Q2’17 standings, while Porsche 911 continues to lose salesSales of Large Sports Cars and Exotics fell by 2.6% in the second quarter of 2017, a slower pace of decline than the 10.4% registered in 2016, or the 5.5% registered in the first quarter of the year. Could this be a sign that the segment is going through a bit of a resurgence? As we previously mentioned, this segment had undergone a huge growth in years past, so the recent declines come from a heady height, and suggest the segment may simply be stabilizing at a sort of “good times” average size, before once again shrinking drastically when the next recession hits (such is the fate of a segment where most cars sell for well over $100,000).
Sales of exotic cars in Europe have exploded in the first quarter of 2017, with a growth of 45% to over 2.100 units. And after years of domination by the Bentley Continental GT and Ferrari 458 Italia, we have a new segment leader, straight out of the box. With almost a quarter of total segment sales, the all-new Aston Martin DB11 has stormed to the top of the ranking, ahead of the Ferrari 488 which maintains its second place thanks to a sales growth of 35%, while the former segment leader Continental GT is kicked down to third place with stable sales. Never before has an Aston Martin topped the exotic car segment in Europe, but the DB11 is an obvious hit with affluent buyers. It has turned the two-horse race at the top of the ranking into a three-way, as the top-3 dominates the segment with 68,3% of total sales as the #3 sells more than triple the volume of its closest rival.
Sales of Alternative Power cars in the United States increased a hopeful 47.2% in the first quarter of 2017 to 41,132 units, or 1% of the total US market. This is a combination of a 39.4% growth for EVs to 21,379 sales and a 56.7% growth for PHEVs to 19,753 sales. The EV segment is still slightly larger but the PHEV segment grows faster and is catching up, as especially luxury brands are entering this niche of the market before making a switch to full electric models. While regular (non-plug in) hybrids are struggling due to low gas prices, EVs and PHEV continue to benefit from Federal and State rebates that stimulate sales of these vehicles. And new entrants will keep arriving in showrooms this year, so expect the growth to continue.
Sales of Large Sports Cars and Exotics fell by 5.5% in the first quarter of 2017, following a 10.4% decline in 2016. Total volume in this segment stood at 11,370 in Q1. And there’s not a lot of product news expected this year, so the decline is expected to last throughout the year. Then again, keep in mind the segment peaked at over 60,000 sales in 2015, when it almost doubled up in just 3 years time, so small declines after such an impressive growth curve are nothing to be ashamed of, especially on the lack of product news, as mentioned. We do welcome two newcomers to the segment compared to Q1 of last year, but both are still at the bottom of the ranking: the second generation Acura NSX and the all-new Ford GT.
EV and PHEV sales in Europe have set another record in 2016, but the growth curve has significantly slowed, with just a 7% gain for battery electric cars and 17% for Plug-in hybrid cars, compared to an overall market up 6,2%. As a result, combined sales of all plug-in vehicles grew from 1,4% of the market in 2015 to 1,5% in 2016. While we hit the 100.000 annual sales milestone for PHEVs, EVs missed that target by just 2.500 units, as customers were waiting for the “next generation” EVs with longer range which arrived late 2016 (BMW i3) or early 2017 (Renault Zoe, VW e-Golf). Also, a number of governments, most notably Denmark and Sweden, have dialed back on their EV incentives in 2016 while Germany’s new EV and PHEV subsidy hasn’t made a big impact yet. In The Netherlands, an incentive on PHEV’s as company cars was cut in 2017 so that boosted deliveries of these vehicles in the last few months as customers wanted to benefit from the incentives before they ended. As a result, 2017 PHEV sales are expected to crash and burn in The Netherlands while EVs are expected to show healthy growth there because this will be the only type of vehicle to receive government incentives.
The exotic car segment in Europe grew at double the overall market growth in 2016, at +12%, helped by a handful of new products. But the leader of the segment remains unchanged, even though the Bentley Continental GT gains just 5% and therefore loses 2 percentage point of share. In Q4, the Continental GT was even down a worrying 11,5%. The Ferrari 488 continues where its predecessor 458 Italia left off: in 2nd spot, ahead of chief rival Lamborghini Huracan, which also gains just 5%, but had a more positive Q4 at +64%. The Ferrari F12, about to be replaced by the 812 Superfast in 2017, almost doubles its sales in the fourth quarter to finish the year with a 31% gain. 2016 has been a great year for Italian V12 supercars, because Lamborghini Aventador does even better at +135% in the fourth quarter and +48% for the year.