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…]
When the deliciously aggressive-looking Genesis New York Concept made its debut I was really impressed. Having been spun off its parent Hyundai brand Genesis needed to make an emphatic statement of intent, and the New York Concept was just that. And while I could not escape the nagging feeling that Hyundai had been there before, a quick browse through their concept back-catalog yielded nothing. Maybe I was wrong?
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.
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.
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 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…]
Sales of midsized MPVs in Europe are down less than 6.000 units, or 1% on the first three quarters of last year. Only three models increase their sales more than 2%, including one all-new model, while the rest either loses ground or stays virtually stable.
The Citroën C4 (Grand) Picasso continues its strong performance, now grabbing 15,6% of the segment and extending its lead over the traditional leader Renault (Grand) Scenic. If the Picasso holds on to its lead until the end of the year, it would be only the second time ever that the Scenic doesn’t lead the segment it invented in 1996. In 2008 it was also Citroën who kicked the Scenic down. However, the French may have a battle on their own turf next year, as the recently introduced Volkswagen Golf Sportsvan was the best selling midsized MPV in September. Despite having half as many selling days as the rest of the segment, the Sportsvan has already moved in to 7th place of the segment and doesn’t seem to take any prisoners. [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…]
The midsized segment has been in crisis for a decade now, but the sales decline seems to bottom out, with sales down “only” 5% after the first three quarters of 2014, to just over 400.000 units. With the new generations VW Passat and Ford Mondeo ready to start their customer deliveries, and the Peugeot 508 recently facelifted, the segment should be able to return to positive territory for only the second time since 2001. The VW Passat remains stable and increases its share of the segment to 28,8%, and that’s even without the new generation, which has only just entered European showrooms and should start customer deliveries anytime now.
The top-4 are the only models in the segment to increase their sales and now control almost two thirds of the segment, indicating a further defragmentation of the market. The Honda Accord is the latest victim of this increased monotony in the midsized car segment, as it won’t be replaced at the end of its life cycle, joining the Suzuki Kizashi, Seat Exeo, Chevrolet Malibu on their way to the happy hunting grounds. [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…]