Some two weeks ago Sergio Marchionne, one of the industry’s most polarizing figures, presented to investors the five-year plan for the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) group. A lot of ink has already been spilled analyzing the announcements, as well as models and whole brands missing from the presentation, so we won’t aim to add to that at this [Read more…]
A new year is always a nice opportunity to reflect on the past year and in our case, that means looking at which cars have sold disappointingly in 2016 in China. We’ve already covered the surprises and disappointments in Europe as well as the surprises and disappointments in the US and the Chinese success stories of 2016, now let’s take a look at the Chinese disappointments. We’ll make our predictions for 2017 in a separate article. In a market that has grown 18% in the first 11 months of the year, it should be hard to find true losers, but still there are a few. I won’t even mention the biggest loser of all: Fiat with sales down 58,6% because the Italian brand simply isn’t relevant in China, with just 0,06% market share.
Last year, we predicted Peugeot-Citroën’s luxury brand DS would be on this list. And even though it was already down in volume last year, DS managed to underwhelm even our lowest expectations for 2016. In its third full year of sales, it’s down for the second consecutive year, and not by a small margin: -22,5% through November. None of its models has improved on last year, and its latest launch DS 4S has failed miserably with just 1.435 sales in 9 months, peaking at 276 sales in September. Whoever thought launching a premium hatchback in China would be a great idea deserves to be fired on the spot. Then again, the DS6 crossover is also down 22,5% but still by far the brand’s best selling model.
Sadly for the French, DS is not their only brand to suffer from poor product planning, and a lack of new products: Peugeot‘s only new model has arrived too late to make a mark, the 4008 (also known as the new generation 3008 in Europe) started sales in the fourth quarter and couldn’t prevent the French brand from losing 17,1% through November in a market up 18,8%. [Read more…]
Alfa Romeo Giulia
Alfa Romeo has finally launched the long-awaited successor to the 159. The brand that has languished and seen plummeting sales over the last fifteen years aims to revive the glory of its heydays with the all-new Giulia. As of now, Alfa Romeo launched the Giulia Quadrifoglio only, the top-of-the-range version capable of some mind-blowing numbers: it features the 510 hp six-cylinder 2.9 turbo petrol engine developed by Ferrari engineers with a top speed of 307 km/h and capable of an acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.9 seconds, a peak torque of 600 Nm, while it should brake from 100 km/h back to 0 in less than 32 metres. Alfa Romeo claims best in class emission levels, with 198 g/km of CO2, while its dry weight is just 1,524 kg. Sales of the Giulia Quadrifoglio will start during the last quarter of 2015, with prices starting at about 79,000 Euro in Italy.
Let’s talk about automotive mergers again, because Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles, keeps going on about them being necessary to achieve the economies of scale needed for automakers in the current, highly competitive marketplace, and in order to spread the cost of investments in fuel efficiency, connectivity, autonomous driving and electrification. Okay, in all honesty, Sergio isn’t the only one saying it’s becoming “too expensive to make cars”, but he is the most outspoken one on the subject and he keeps flirting with other automakers to merge, most notably General Motors, so he’s an easy target for my rants.
And to a certain degree I can relate with him. Like he says, it doesn’t make any sense at all for every single automaker to develop -for example- hydrogen fuel cell technology in-house, so each of them has to “invent the wheel” by all themselves. Of course it would save tons of money for the automakers, and therefore for new car buyers, if development costs of a new technology could be spread among a cooperation of automakers, but guess what? This already happens a lot without any of them having to actually merge. Besides that, a lot of technologies in vehicle safety or fuel efficiency already get developed by suppliers, like Bosch, Magna or Denso, who then sell a license to the technology to a number of automakers, and thus spreading the development costs. [Read more…]
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has again claimed that the automotive industry needs more consolidation, and that within a few years time, automakers that sell less than 6 million cars a year worldwide won’t be able to stay competitive. Toyota, Volkswagen and General Motors currently sell at around 10 million units a year, Renault-Nissan 8,5 million and Hyundai-Kia 8 million, which means at 4,75 million sales in 2014, FCA is trailing both its main competitors and its own “bar for succes”. Before 2020, Marchionne envisions himself making another “huge deal” with another automaker in order to reach sufficient economies of scale. He has also hinted that he would like to get either General Motors or PSA Peugeot-Citroën at his table to negotiate the possibilities of a merger. But I think he’s looking in the wrong direction.
Managers at the new GM still flinch when they recall the last deal the old GM struck with Marchionne, the one that forced them to either buy the remaining 80% of the money-losing Fiat brand they didn’t already own, or to pay them $ 2 billion to get out of the contract. They opted for the latter and Marchionne used exactly that money to turn Fiat around before buying Chrysler out of bankruptcy. PSA has been saying for a while they’re only interested in partnerships and collaborations, not in mergers. [Read more…]
The midsized crossover segment is still enjoying a healthy growth pace, increasing sales 11% in the first three quarters of 2014, as 14 models in the top-20 have sold more units than they did in the same period last year.
The first model to lose sales is the Nissan Qashqai which has suffered from a model change-over to its second generation. I had expected the new model to have picked up the pace by now and to have returned into positive territory by now, but it has fallen below 20% segment share instead. Considering the last quarter of the year is traditionally the slowest, the Qashqai may fall below the 200.000 annual sales mark for the first time since 2009. But even if it does so, it won’t be by more than 5.000 units. Perhaps the successful introduction of the 7-seater Nissan X-Trail as a replacement to both the outgoing X-Trail and the extended wheelbase Qashqai+2 is hurting sales of its smaller sibling. The X-Trail has already more than doubled its volume of last year and was up into 13th place in September, ready to move past the C4 Aircross and Forester by the end of the year. [Read more…]
The small crossover segment has already topped half a million sales after three quarters of the year and has already broken the full year 2013 tally by a large margin. By the end of the year, a total of 670.000 small crossovers may have hit European streets, of which the top-5 players take a combined share of 92%.
Thanks to the popularity of the segment in their home market France, the Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008 and Dacia Duster take the podium positions of the segment. Or is it the other way around? Are small crossover sales in France ahead of the rest of the continent because their incumbent brands have introduced the hottest new models last year? Either way, the Captur remains the leader of the pack and the only model above 20% segment share, but behind it is a tight three-way race. Year-to-date, the 2008 is well ahead of the Duster and the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka, but when looking at the third quarter, less than 125 sales separate the three models.
The Duster almost outsold the Captur in July and actually did so in the slow month of August, but it fell back in September. Sales of the Mokka have headed in the opposite direction, losing ground in July and August, but making it all up in September at it came within 400 units of the Captur. [Read more…]
The small MPV segment in Europe is still up 6% after the first nine months of 2014, but continued competition from small crossovers has caused the growth to stall, while the top-3 are the only models to increase sales year-over-year. The Fiat 500L continues to control the segment which it has lead for five straight quarters, but the Nissan Note is storming up the charts, coming from 7th place last year with the previous generation to second place this year, thanks to the new model. The Note even outsold the 500L in September thanks to strong volume in the UK, its home market.
The Ford B-Max loses another spot in the segment it has lead until the first half of 2013, and it has been surpassed since by respectively the 500L, the Note and now the Opel/Vauxhall Meriva to be kicked off the podium. The little Ford has lost 20% of its volume, or almost 11.000 units on last year and could feel the Citroën C3 Picasso breathing down its neck in September. [Read more…]
After nine months, the European compact car segment is still up 10%, outperforming the market and, with over 1,7 million units sold, still the second largest segment of the continent.
As expected, the VW Golf continues to lead over its rivals by a large margin, and even increasing its share of the segment to 23%, which means almost one in every four compact cars sold in Europe is a Golf. The Ford Focus had an excellent month of September thanks to the strong UK market, but it was outsold by the Skoda Octavia in both July and August. With Octavia sales up one third and Focus sales stable year-to-date, the Focus desperately needs the upcoming facelift to fend off its Czech rival next year.
The Opel/Vauxhall Astra is still waiting for its replacement and is in danger of losing its fourth place to the Peugeot 308 next year, as the latter is coming closer and closer. However, the 308 can’t afford not to look in its mirrors, as the Seat Leon is charging ahead as well, now having passed the ageing Renault Megane for sixth place. The Megane was also outsold by the Toyota Auris in August and September and may lose another spot by the end of the year. That should give some consolation to the best selling Asian compact, which has been kicked down from 6th to 8th this year.
The Hyundai i30 and Kia Cee’d lose more than 10.000 units of their volume each, although their replacements won’t be due until at least 2016. [Read more…]
Sales of subcompact cars in Europe remain stable at a 1% growth year-on-year after the first nine months of 2014. It remains the largest segment of the continent at almost 2 million units sold.
The traditional leader Ford Fiesta has taken some distance from the Renault Clio in second place, mainly thanks to an excellent month of September, in which the small Ford outsold all of its rivals by a margin of at least 10.000 units, similar to last March. These months are the peak months in the UK market, where the Fiesta is particularly strong. In August, the Fiesta was outsold by both the VW Polo and the Clio. The Polo has just been facelifted and has outsold the Renault Clio in both August and September. I think the advantage of the Clio is large enough to hold onto its position until the end of the year, but it better prepare for a battle in 2015.
The Peugeot 208 continues to struggle, down 10% on last year. A Peugeot spokesperson at the Paris Auto Show last month explained to me that the brand prefers profit over volume and therefore chooses not to dump the model to rental companies at very low margins. Also, the 208 is set to get a facelift next year to keep it fresh.
A recent facelift of the Toyota Yaris, with the new X-shaped front-end that’s the brand’s new family face is likely to keep the small Toyota in the plus this year. [Read more…]