After almost 10 years of UK-only sales, SAIC MG is ready to start exports of its cars from China to other countries in Europe as well. Recently, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) has successfully launched a few crossovers in the domestic market (Roewe RX5, MG ZS), which puts its two passenger car brands among the fastest growing brands in China at the moment. This would be a great moment to expand its footprint to new markets as it can launch there with fresh product, and more importantly: the right product. MG is the designated export brand for passenger cars from SAIC, whereas Roewe is and will remain a China-only brand and Maxus is the LCV brand of the company. MG is already available in a number of countries in the Asia-Pacific, South America and Africa regions, and since 2009 in the UK where it reached a peak of just under 4.200 sales last year. With its expansion into continental Europe, the brand is looking to become the first Chinese brand to successfully enter a mature market, but a number of other players have set similar goals, among others Geely with its newly launched Lynk & Co brand and the resurrected Borgward brand, which both also have concrete plans to enter the European car market. [Read more…]
On Wednesday Hyundai finally announced what many have been speculating for years: that it will spin off a new luxury brand under which it will sell its Genesis, Equus and Coupe models. The brand will be named after the most popular model of the three, the Genesis, taking advantage of the name recognition it has earned since its 2008 debut. It will be the first major luxury brand created since Infiniti, the last of the Japanese luxury brands, came to the market in 1989.
So, what should we think of this? Does Genesis have a chance to succeed in the increasingly crowded luxury market, or does it not have a snowball’s chance in hell? Here are three reasons why I think it could succeed: [Read more…]
Audi e-tron quattro Concept
The Audi e-tron quattro Concept previews the Tesla Model X-rivalling Audi Q6, which will be presented in early 2018. It uses the power of three electric motors; one drives the front axle, the other acts on the rear axle. Total output is 435 hp and in boost mode it can mobilize up to 500 hp and 800 Nm torque. It accelerates from standstill to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds, while its electronically governed top speed is 210 km/h. The battery’s capacity of 95 kWh should enable a range of more than 500 kilometers. With its length of 4.88 metres, width of 1.93 metres and height of 1.54 metres, it fits between the Audi Q5 and Audi Q7, and its luggage capacity is 615 litres.
Bugatti Vision Gran Turismo Concept
The Vision GranTurismo showcases Bugatti’s new design language and previews the Chiron, which should debut at the Geneva Motor Show next spring, although the Volkswagen emissions scandal could delay the new ‘Chiron’ hypercar.
The Bentayga is the fastest, most powerful, most luxurious and most exclusive SUV in the world according to Bentley, a statement which could very well be true. The production version of the EXP 9 F Concept is based on the platform of the new Audi Q7, but designed, engineered and handcrafted in Crewe. It sits on the 2,992 mm wheelbase of the Q7, while the overall car length is 5,141 mm, its width is 1,998 mm and height 1,742 mm. It can be selected with four- or five-seat configurations. The four-seat version features two individual rear seats that adjust in 18 different ways and include massage and ventilation functions as well as footrests. The storage space features a leather-trimmed folding seat that matches the style of the cabin seats, according to Bentley “Ideal for those wishing to stop for a moment and enjoy a spectacular outdoor environment or pursuit”. A 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 engine with a power output of 608 hp and 900 Nm torque powers the SUV, with which it could achieve a top speed of 301 km/h and accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 4.1 seconds. The engine is mated to an eight-speed transmission, while the CO2-emissions are 292 g/km. In the future Bentley will launch diesel and hybrid variants.
For many successful manufacturers it’s easy to point to their breakout car – Ford has its Model T, VW has the Beatle and Golf, Toyota the Corolla. What about Hyundai, currently the world’s 4th largest automaker (along with Kia)? There are a few candidates: there is the 2nd gen Santa Fe, as well as the 6th gen Sonata, but for me it’s the current (5th gen) Elantra that really stands out. While the previous generations of the other two cars were still pretty good, the current Elantra was a giant leap over its dowdy predecessor. With a giant injection of style the car went from an also-ran to close to the top of the US compact class, jumping over cars such as the Corolla and Civic in tests if not quite in sales. Still, as the chart below shows the sales of the 5th gen grew quickly and peaked at double that for the 4th gen model. [Read more…]
Sales of large SUVs in Europe are up an encouraging 18% after declining since 2006 when total segment sales topped 200.000 units. This year, the segment that’s traditionally the domain of Asian manufacturers with the occasional American model trying its luck isn’t even going to reach a fifth of that total. The top-3 of the segment hasn’t changed since, and the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and Toyota Land Cruiser have even increased their share to a combined three quarters of segment sales.
The Santa Fe has more than recovered from its slow start of the year by lodging a very impressive third quarter, in which the model improved 83% on Q3 of 2013. I guess Hyundai has dealt with supply shortages of the Santa Fe, as its new generation has proven very popular in the USA, China and Russia, markets where SUVs and crossovers are much more popular. The new generation Sorento has just been revealed at the Paris Auto Show, and it may threaten its sibling if supply of the latter remains constrained. [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…]
Fiat has taken the covers of its 500X small crossover in Paris. It’s technically identical to its cousin Jeep Renegade, but they are completely different in styling. Whereas the Renegade shows the square and rugged lines of a true Jeep, albeit in a Playmobil size, the 500X is easily recognizable as a member of the Fiat 500-family, with its rounded and huggable looks. Both will compete in the fast-growing small crossover segment, and will stand out from their mostly French competitors thanks to an optional four-wheel drive system, which is expected to make up about 20% of the 500X’s volume. Fiat projects a volume of around 60.000 units in Europe, which would place it in 5th position of the segment. The Renegade will add another 25.000 to that tally. Europe’s most important market for the 500X besides its home market Italy is France, as that’s where small crossovers are the most popular. But the biggest market worldwide will be the USA, which are expected to take about one quarter of 500X sales worldwide.
After having already been on display at the Paris Auto Show in 2012, the Ford Mondeo is finally ready to hit the European market. Even though its design is already almost three years old, it still looks fresh and from some bystanders I heard they liked it much better than the new Volkswagen Passat, which has been styled very conservatively. The engine line-up will start with Ford’s already famous 1,0 liter 3-cylinder Ecoboost engine which also powers the Fiesta and Focus. It offers more power and more fuel economy than the 1,6 liter 4-cylinder engine it replaces. This engine should prove especially popular in markets with government subsidies on the most fuel efficient vehicles. Besides the diesel engines, which will take the bulk of sales, Ford will also offer the Mondeo Hybrid. It will be priced similar to the diesel version, giving buyers who’d rather not drive a diesel an alternative powertrain. A plug-in hybrid version, as offered in the USA as the Fusion Energi, is not planned for Europe, but it’s ready to be launched if demand for such a vehicle justifies bringing it to the market. Ford has not disclosed sales projections, but it won’t be a secret they’re aiming for a number one spot in the midsize segment. But I don’t think the Mondeo will outsell the Passat and I see a potential for 150.000 sales per year in Europe for the Mondeo, the bulk of which will go to the UK and Germany. [Read more…]